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03.09.09 4 GUN BILLS TO BE HEARD 03.10.09

Tomorrow, as we told you, the House Judiciary Committee will be hearing four gun related bills.

Two of these bills, HB 2644 and HB 2991, allow persons with concealed handgun licenses to bypass background checks when making firearms purchases.

These two bills are the same, so it’s likely that they will be consolidated into one bill.

HB 2645 requires the destruction of records obtained during background checks for firearms.

HB 2727 prohibits the release of information about concealed handgun licenses. All are good bills but will almost certainly be amended.

The bills allowing CHL holders to bypass background checks will probably meet with objections from law enforcement who will say that gun dealers will have no way of knowing if a license is valid, since they can be revoked, but not siezed by the sheriff. The obvious, easy fix for this is to allow dealers (and private sellers at gun shows) to contact the state police and inquire only if a license is valid. No other check would be required.

The State Police currently have the ability to provide this information.

However, if that is done, a potential conflict arises with HB 2727, the CHL privacy bill we have been working on since before the session began.

As currently written, HB 2727 would not allow the State Police to tell dealers if a CHL was valid. If the bills allowing license holders to bypass background checks are amended to allow the State Police to simply verify whether a license was valid, 2727 will have to be amended to allow the State Police to disclose that information to gun sellers. We are working with the bills’ sponsors to make sure all these different goals are met.

As far as HB 2645 is concerned, the State Police have pointed out that if they are required to destroy all records obtained during a background check, that they would lose information they had acquired that cleared a gun buyer. In other words, if a person was delayed because of a question that came up during a background check, and the investigation proved the person was qualified, then the next time he tried to purchase a gun, the police would no longer have the info to clear him and another delay would result.

There is an easy fix for this as well. The information on the buyer could be retained, but the State Police would be required to destroy the information about the firearm purchased.

While these bills will need some work, we are confident that they can be amended to make them all work together.

Please contact the House Judiciary Committee and urge them to craft simple, workable bills that protect gun owners’ rights and privacy. A sample message and contact info are provided below.

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Dear Representative,

House Bills 2644, 2645, 2727 and 2991 are common sense measures that protect gun owners’ rights and privacy. Please work to resolve the minor conflicts in these well-intentioned and long overdue protections for Oregon’s most law-abiding community.

Sincerely,

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