By Sheriff Mike Cook
As the manager of a new firearms dealership here in Oregon I felt it was important to give you a heads up about something that is doing harm to our business and causing people to be delayed for long amounts of time to purchase a firearm and take it into possession. This is a violation of their Constitutional rights to bear arms as I see it.
The case in point is about a man who came in and ordered a firearm for his own protection as he had just been issued a concealed carry license and wanted a firearm for this purpose. He came into my shop ordered the firearm and it was delivered for his pickup on May 24, 2006 at which time he filled out the federal form 4473. He answered all the questions on this form with NO with exception of the first question to which he responded “yes.” Seeing that the form was filled out properly I then called the Oregon State Police I.D. Section and ran the usual background check. At that time they delayed him. I explained this and held the firearm. After a delay of seven days until May 31, 2006 they called back and delayed him again. Then they called back and delayed him a third time until June 16, 2006. The next call delayed him until June 21, 2006. I finally got authorization to deliver the firearm to him on June 20, 2006. This was almost a month long ordeal for him and our business.
I opened this firearms store on March 7th, 2006 and have had about five or six delays to date. I do not know what the average was except when I worked at another gun store for the previous five years we had very few delays.
The problem comes that if you are delayed they will not tell you why. However if you are denied they will tell you why with a phone call to them. I must provide you with a number to call if you are denied.
As there have been many more delays lately Kevin Starrett of OFF informed me that the Oregon State Police I.D. Section had been informed by the FBI that they were in violation of the Brady Act which requires them to check out domestic violence arrests. So a new policy was put into place, as they believe federal law over rides Oregon law, and mandates that they follow federal law. The act makes it so that you can’t own firearms if you have ever been convicted of a crime of domestic violence at any time in the past.
Here is the problem. If you moved here from another state or lived for a time in another state then they must check with that state to see if you were convicted if they see an arrest on your record.
The man who was delayed at my store moved into Oregon from another state. Back in the 70’s his 16 year old daughter had been forbidden from going to the prom when she got into trouble. So she was upset and cooked up a plan with her older sister to turn her father in for assault. She had some bruises to show from playing sports and told a very good lie to the police. So he got arrested and taken to the local police department. When the full story came out he was never formally charged or convicted of a crime, and the matter was dropped. However on his record it shows an arrest. So when this state was contacted for the full story it took a long time for them to respond as the report had been archived and was on microfiche. This is why the long delay. (As a side note they even talked about charging his daughter with filling a false police report, but this never happened.)
As I see it, there is a much simpler way to handle this.
As Kevin has pointed out, Oregon law requires that after a delay the FFL dealer can deliver the firearm after the next day’s close of business. In other words they have 24 hours to get back or the person can pick up the firearm anyway. This has never been followed to my knowledge. Most dealers don’t complain as they don’t want to deal with the problems it would cause.
However there is a simple fix to this problem. On the 4473 form is the question, “have you ever been convicted of a crime of domestic violence?”
If the person answered this with a NO and they have been, then they are guilty of false swearing on that document which is a crime. This is how it should be dealt with as all the information on how to contact them and arrest them for that crime is on the document. The firearm can be recovered at that time.
Even when a person is denied on the purchase of a firearm it means that they have committed the crime, however no one, to my knowledge, has been charged with this crime in Oregon. So the innocent citizen is being delayed and this is very wrong. Our legislators or the courts should deal with this problem once and for all and quit causing a problem for the business and the honest citizens. I think it’s time to either go back to the federal system or change the policy at the OSP I.D. section to make them fall in line with Oregon law.
With the federal system (NICS) you don’t even need to do the background if the person has a valid Concealed Carry License (CCW) or if they are a police officer on active duty or honorable retired. There is no charge for the check to be done on this system and no record is supposed to be kept for any length of time.
Under our system where the State Police I.D. Section is the point of contact, everyone must go through the check and there is a $10.00 charge for this “service.”
So far this year they have taken in over $600,000 dollars of your hard earned dollars with this system. This is nothing more than a hidden sales tax on firearms. They also keep a record of this sale along with information on the firearm and its serial number for five years. This has been adjudicated by our federal courts as un-Constitutional. No one in Oregon has challenged this, why?
The system could be simplified by having a small device in each business that when a person wants to buy a firearm we could then swipe his or her driver’s license which has a bar code on it, and it would say approved, denied, or please call if there is some other problem. If they have a CHL they have already been through the background check and paid for it. The state has no business knowing what kind of firearm was purchased or its serial number. There are already checks in place to catch stolen firearms. As for the cost, that should be provided by the federal government out of the general fund taxes we pay.
I say it’s time for action. The system is not working and needs to be fixed. We should ask everyone running for the legislature how they intend to fix these problems if they want our vote.
Michael E. Cook, Coos County Sheriff, Retired.
Manager of Bay Area Firearms Llc, North Bend, Oregon