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03.19.12 STATE POLICE TO GUN BUYERS…”LEAVE US ALONE”

As far too many of you know, the Oregon State Police ID Unit  was shut down for most of Sunday, crippling multiple gun shows, halting countless sales and costing dealers, buyers and gun show hosts untold thousands of dollars. If you ever wondered why we oppose background checks, this should tell you. All OSP has to do is throw a switch or blow a fuse and gun sales end. Both their phone lines and their new “computer system” were unavailable. But there is a bigger, more constant problem we need to address.

Several years ago OFF was receiving so many complaints about the awful treatment people were receiving from the State Police ID Unit when they attempted to make firearms purchases that we arranged a meeting with them.

At the time both dealers and buyers were frequently lied to about the process, and attempts to contact OSP for an explanation of a delay or denial were routinely ignored.

During our first meeting, OSP gave us a copy of a manual they said they provided to gun dealers that explained “the rules.”  On the very second page we noted information that was false and against state and Federal law.

During that meeting we were promised that service would improve, the error in the manual would be fixed and staff would be retrained so they would no longer dispense false information to dealers and buyers. For a long time things did seem to improve. The complaints we got dropped off to almost zero. Calls to the challenge line were, as promised, being returned promptly. We have never approved of background checks, but it did seem like an effort was being made to do a better job. Still we believed that because of several factors, including a $10.00 fee and the fact that OSP was databasing info on the gun being purchased, and thereby creating a gun registry, that this job was better done by NICS directly. In 2011 we introduced a bill to do just that. It passed out of House Judiciary only to die in Ways and Means when the Public Employee Unions came out to testify that the Oregon economy would collapse if OSP was not doing gun purchase background checks.

Now it seems we are back to the bad old days.  The number of complaints we receive about unjust delays has once again started climbing, but what’s worse is the new attitude of the OSP ID Unit.

Where once if you received a  delay or “pend” you were promised a response in 24 hours, now OSP is telling people not to bother them and not to expect a call back. Their “challenge line” has an outgoing message saying you will be delayed at least a month and don’t even bother to leave a message before a month has gone by since they will NOT call you back. This is an astonishing response from a State agency. “We are going to deny your rights and you’d better not ask us about it.”

The attitude of the OSP ID Unit is outrageous and unacceptable. The outgoing message tells people that their “standard delay” is 35 days. But that does not mean you will even get a response then. They can extend their delay forever.

Clearly, a right delayed is a right denied.

Think of the person who has a reasonable fear for their safety. The State Police tell them “tough, it’s your problem.” and then to add insult to injury tell that person, “don’t bother us with questions.”

It is important to note that with or without the OSP’s approval you are entitled to the gun after three business days as long as there has not be an outright denial.  As you would expect, there is nothing in their message that informs callers of this and it is the policy of the OSP not to inform buyers or dealers of this fact. NICS, on the other hand, informs buyers of their rights.

The State Police ID Unit has turned itself into a dictatorial gun control agency that routinely denies people their rights and then demands that it not be questioned about it. This has to stop.

First, call the challenge line to listen to the arrogant and outrageous outgoing message if you press 1 for a “delay”. That number is 503-373-1808.

Then call Patricia Whitfield and demand to know why her agency is treating taxpaying Oregonians like an unwanted nuisance when they are denied their rights by her agency.

Whitfield’s phone number is 503-934-2305.

Her email is patricia.whitfield@state.or.us

A sample cut and paste message follows:

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Ms. Whitfield,
I am astonished by the attitude of your unit when dealing with firearms purchase delays. The OSP ID Unit is a state agency tasked with serving the residents and taxpayers of this state. When your unit delays a firearms purchase, they are denying a right. To treat callers to your “challenge” line as though they were an unwelcome annoyance is outrageous and unacceptable.
If you cannot complete your checks quick
ly you should at least inform delayed buyers of their rights under State and Federal law. If this situation is not improved, I can assure you that I will do all in my power to see that the Legislature turns these checks over to NICS.