SUNRIVER, OR -- A victim of gun violence who lives in Sunriver was happy to hear that the State House approved Senate Bill 941, expanding gun background checks in Oregon. Saundra Hopkins, her husband and her young daughter were shot at while teaching in a village in Indonesia in 2002. Two other Americans were killed in the attack. She tells KBND News, "I understand the differences between our situation and what's going on in Oregon, but the point was it was a third world country, and that kind of thing should not be happening here. ... We deserved to have laws to protect us from people who are not great. This won't stop all of them, but this is a deterrent and I think that's great."
Similar background check measures failed to pass in the State Senate in past years, but passed this year with an increased Democratic majority in both chambers. Hopkins applauds lawmakers for finally closing this loophole. "We got exactly what the voters wanted: Background checks in the state of Oregon," she says. "It made no sense for the voters to say they want then, and for us to have a law with huge gaping holes in it."
She adds, "We were the only state of the three west coast states that didn't have a pretty strong background law covering all those areas -- we already had gun shows, and now we have online sales and private sales taken care of. Those criminals might be thinking about going to Idaho, Nevada and wherever else, and I say 'Great. Enjoy your time there.'"
During yesterday's vote, House Minority Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) gave an impassioned 30-minute plea for lawmakers to vote against the measure. "The right to bear arms is as fundamental to people as the right to vote," he says. "What's being erected here is a barrier. If, colleagues, it were a barrier to voting -- say the cost of postage was too great compared to the $15 transfer fee -- does the agenda change your answer?"
All Republicans voted against SB 941, as did three Democrats. With the 32 to 28 vote, the bill now heads to Governor Kate Brown, who is expected to sign it.