Bill would expand gun buying ban

SALEM — Oregon lawmakers want to expand a ban on the purchase or possession of firearms by people with domestic violence records or restraining orders.

The proposal would add to the list of those who could be barred from ownership after a conviction, add to the list of those who could be barred after a receiving a restraining order, and add stalking as a qualifying crime. The state House approved the measure 37-23 Thursday, sending it to the Senate. Supporters said the bill would close a loophole in existing law that allows some abusers, such as boyfriends who abuse partners they don't live with, to be excluded even after an otherwise qualifying crime.

"A person who assaults their boyfriend or girlfriend is no less guilty than someone who assaults their wife," said Democratic House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson.

The proposal builds on a bill signed into Oregon law in 2015. That law bans gun ownership by people who have been convicted of domestic abuse, or had a restraining order taken out against them.

The proposal that advanced Thursday would expand that by substituting a broader definition: In place of "intimate partners," the proposal would ban anyone who had been convicted of domestic violence against a "family or household member" from owning a gun or ammunition.

Under the existing law, Williamson said before the vote, boyfriends or other unmarried partners who don't live together and don't have children aren't considered intimate partners. The broader term would include partners who don't live together, as well as immediate family members like adult children.

The same change would apply to restraining orders, and stalking would be added as a qualifying crime.

State police would be required to forward any flagged attempts made by banned individuals to buy guns to probation officers and local police for investigation, and those same agencies would be required to report yearly on the outcome of their investigations. Qualifying crimes would also be reported to federal authorities, for addition to federal databases on prohibited purchasers.

Twenty-three house Republicans opposed the measure.

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