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Recall petitions over gun control put pressure on Democrats

By JONATHAN J. COOPER
Of the Associated Press

SALEM — With Oregon Democrats moving forward on a bill to require background checks for private gun sales, the potential political backlash is becoming apparent.

Gun rights advocates last week filed petitions to recall three Democratic lawmakers who sponsored the legislation, and they say more could follow.

It's not yet clear whether deep-pocketed gun interests such as the National Rifle Association will get involved and raise a serious threat to the targeted lawmakers.

The state Senate voted last week to require background checks on any person-to-person gun sale not involving relatives. The recall move puts pressure on Democrats as the bill awaits a hearing in the House, which could come as soon as next week.

A Junction City gun shop owner filed the first recall petition against Rep. Val Hoyle, who received campaign money from gun-rights groups but signed on as a sponsor of the background check bill.

In a statement released by her spokesman, Hoyle said she won't back off, adding that she's confident her constituents would support her if it got that far. To hold a recall election, Hoyle's critics would need to collect more than 3,000 signatures from registered voters in the district she won last year by 12 points.

“I want to be clear that I won't be intimidated away from doing what I think is right,” Hoyle said.

Separately, a group of constituents filed recall petitions against Rep. Susan McLain of Forest Grove and Sen. Chuck Riley of Hillsboro, both freshmen Democrats from swing districts in Washington County.

Riley barely eked out a win, defeating a Republican incumbent by less than a percentage point last year. But he said he's not concerned about a recall over gun control, noting he campaigned on the issue. He said he believes his support for background checks is part of the reason he won his election.

“There's no reason to think that you're going to be recalled for doing what you said you were going to do in your campaign,” Riley said. “If you make promises and keep them, there's no reason to think that you're going to be recalled.”

A successful recall effort would require gun-rights advocates to quickly collect thousands of signatures — an expensive and labor-intensive endeavor — and then to square off with gun control supporters in an expensive campaign.

It's unclear whether the recall backers will attract large donations or organization. The National Rifle Association did not respond to a request for comment.

Norm Voshall, a spokesman for the group seeking a recall of McLain and Riley, said he'd welcome financial assistance from national groups but is starting slow.

“No groups or nothing, just four guys who don't like the way things are going,” Voshall said.

In another closely watched 2013 campaign, gun rights advocates successfully recalled two Colorado lawmakers who backed a background check expansion after the movie theater shooting in Aurora.

The day Oregon's Senate approved the background checks bill, Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control advocacy group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, began airing television ads supporting the policy.

The lawmakers facing recall also got a show of support from national Democrats. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which works on expanding the party's influence in state legislatures, sent a statement last week calling the recall petition against Hoyle “naked retaliation by anti-gun safety activists who object to common-sense firearm laws.”

Comments

Rumpelstilzchen

In contrast to many absolutist gun rights people, I actually have no problem with universal background checks.
But, probably under the influence of the money and pressure from out-of-state anti-gun groups (which are just as bad for local politics as the NRA is on the other side), who are not interested in gun safety, but in reducing access to guns, the Democrats have allowed bad policy to creep into this law.
The requirement to go through a licensed dealer adds an unacceptable burden to any private gun sale. In contrast to the fevered imagination of gun control advocates, most private gun sales are not convicted felons buying high-capacity pistols in dark parking lots, but ordinary folks trading hunting rifles, shotguns and collectibles. All these people now have to find and physically visit a dealer, not that easy in many rural areas, and pay the additional dealer fees of 20 to 50 dollars to handle the transaction, the current average charges. I know because I do quite a few out-of-state sales, where that has been required.
This contributes nothing to safety compared to a computerized or phone check, but is purely designed to increase the cost and hassle so as to discourage sales.
I am not a fan of recalls except for gross malfeasance, but this mess and acrimony is entirely the fault of the Democrats' arrogance of power. Oregon's political culture has been badly served.

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