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House approval sends measure to uncertain fate in Republican-controlled Senate, but it's the first major bill to advance in more than two decades.

COURTESY PHOTO - U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who voted for HR 8 requiring criminal background checks for most firearms transactionsU.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici has praised House approval of a bill requiring criminal background checks for almost all firearms sales and transfers.

The 240-190 vote Wednesday (Feb. 27) sent HR 8 to an uncertain fate in the Senate, which has a Republican majority. But the bill was recognized as the first major legislation on gun violence prevention to pass either chamber in more than two decades.

Bonamici and three other Oregon Democrats cosponsored and voted for it; Rep. Greg Walden, the lone Republican in the delegation, voted against it. Of the 240 yes votes, eight came from Republicans; of the 190 votes against it, two came from Democrats.

Bonamici said in a statement after the vote:

"By passing this bill, we are heeding the call of the hundreds of thousands of students who marched for their lives. They know — and we know — that this bill will save lives because it requires a background check for nearly all firearm sales and transfers.

"Evidence shows that Oregon and other states that have already passed comprehensive background checks have 35 percent fewer gun deaths, and 47 percent fewer women shot by their intimate partners. Congress is finally doing more than offering thoughts and prayers."

Bonamici's district covers northwest Oregon, including Columbia, Washington and Yamhill counties.

Bonamici's guest at the State of the Union speech on Feb. 5 was Alexandria Goddard, who as a Sunset High School student helped organize the Portland March for Our Lives in 2018. She is now a student at Portland State University.

"This is the first move of many to come that will save American lives," Goddard said. "The congresswoman and her colleagues know that, and they will keep fighting for safety, progress, and the voters they represent.

"For young people across the nation, it's important we see our leaders and elected officials stand with us on these issues. We're excited to see this bill pass, and to be part of the march towards a better America."

Washington County has active groups of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense for America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety.

Joshua Friedlein, who survived the Umpqua Community College shootings in October 2015, is a member of the Everytown Survivor Network.

He said in a statement:

"It's long past time we update our laws to fit the times, and close the loopholes that allow people to buy guns without a background check. We haven't updated our background checks system in 25 years. That means our background checks system is older than me.

"A lot's changed since then. The internet has emerged as a massive, unregulated marketplace where you can buy guns with no background check and no questions asked. If we're going to get serious about preventing gun violence, we need to require background checks on all gun sales, not just those sold in brick-and-mortar stores."

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