Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Group aims at Senate votes by Democratic incumbent.

Republican Monica Wehby’s bid for the U.S. Senate in Oregon is backed by the National Rifle Association, which has taken stances opposite to several votes by Democratic incumbent Jeff Merkley.

“We can count on Monica Wehby to stand up for our constitutional freedoms in the U.S. Senate,” says Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA Political Victory Fund, in a statement released Monday.

A physician from Portland making her first bid for public office, Wehby says she will base votes for Supreme Court nominees partly on how they view firearms rights.

“Since Oregon’s founding, the Second Amendment has played a pivotal role in the development of our state and the protection of its people,” Wehby said in a statement. “As your senator, I will staunchly defend that right and others, every single day.”

But the Merkley campaign asserts that Wehby would have voted against the nominations of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Sotomayor was on the dissenting end of a 5-4 court decision in 2010 that extended to states the federal constitutional right to bear firearms. Kagan was not on the court then.

"Wehby supports extreme anti-choice Supreme Court justices, and opposes moderate justices who respect women's rights to make their own health care decisions," says campaign spokeswoman Lindsey O'Brien. "Her pledge to the national Republican gun lobby is more proof that Wehby in the Senate would vote with Senate Republicans against Oregon's priorities."

Only a couple of votes by Merkley during his six years in the Senate appear to have coincided with NRA support: 2009 votes to allow loaded guns in national parks, and pack firearms on Amtrak trains.

On a series of four votes in April 2013, following the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Merkley voted:

• For a proposal to expand criminal background checks for gun buyers to apply to transfers at gun shows and on the Internet. (Oregon voters approved a 2000 ballot measure for gun-show checks.) The bill failed, even though the vote was 57-43; it required 60 to advance.

• For an amendment to ban assault weapons; a 10-year federal ban expired in 2004. The amendment failed, 60-40.

• For an amendment to limit firearms magazine capacity. The amendment failed, 60-40.

• Against an amendment granting reciprocity to residents of states, including Oregon, that issue licenses for concealed firearms to carry them in other states. The amendment failed, even though the vote was 57-43; it required 60.

The bill is unlikely to resurface before the current Congress adjourns.

Merkley opposed a 2009 proposal to allow concealed firearms across state lines, which the Senate rejected.

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Updates with comment from Merkley campaign, and describes two 2009 votes.

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