Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader was one of only two Democrats to oppose U.S. House passage of one of two gun regulation bills in the aftermath of the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and elsewhere.
The bills passed largely along party lines and are expected to die in the evenly split Senate, where some Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating more modest changes.
Schrader and Maine's Jared Golden were the only Democrats to join 202 Republicans to oppose a bill (HR 7910) to raise the minimum age to 21 for purchase of a semiautomatic weapon — both shooters in Uvalde and Buffalo were 18 when they bought their military-style guns legally — plus other provisions. Among them: Outlaw high-capacity magazines, require background checks for purchases of ghost guns that bear no registration numbers, strengthen requirements for safe storage of firearms, and close a loophole for bump stocks, which are devices that allow for more rapid fire by semiautomatic weapons.
That bill passed the House on a 223-204 vote on Wednesday, June 8. Five Republicans joined 218 Democrats. Oregon Democrats Suzanne Bonamici of Beaverton, Earl Blumenauer of Portland and Peter DeFazio of Springfield voted yes; Oregon Republican Cliff Bentz of Ontario voted no.
A second bill (HR 2377) passed the House on a 224-202 vote on Thursday, June 9. It empowers federal judges to issue orders to keep firearms out of the hands of those at risk of harming themselves or others. Oregon is one of 19 states, plus Washington, D.C., with "red-flag laws."
The second vote was nearly identical, except that Schrader voted with the majority — Golden voted no — and two Republicans were absent.
The House passed two related bills back in March 2021, but both have stalled in the Senate.
One bill (HR 8) would expand federal background checks on potential buyers to sales at gun shows and on the internet, not just those by licensed dealers. The other (HR 1446) would allow more time for federal law enforcement to conduct a check and close the so-called "Charleston loophole," under which the shooter in a 2015 massacre obtained firearms, although the check had not been completed within the required three business days.
The mass shooting May 24 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, claimed the lives of 19 children and two adults. Ten days earlier, a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killed 10 Black people.
Bonamici said in a statement after the two votes:
"We have seen too many tragedies like the horrific attack on children and teachers in Uvalde and the racist targeting and murder of grocery shoppers in Buffalo. The House has already passed bipartisan legislation to expand background checks and close loopholes.
"The Protecting Our Kids Act and Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act include many more common-sense, widely supported measures that will help keep our loved ones safe. We cannot bring back those who have been murdered, but we can enact meaningful laws that will prevent more senseless deaths. I call on the Senate to follow through on their responsibility to our children and our nation by taking up this legislation immediately."
The House votes were among those Schrader has cast since his May 17 primary loss to Jamie McLeod-Skinner of Terrebonne. Unofficial results put McLeod-Skinner at 55% and the seven-term Schrader at 45% in a 5th District redrawn to take in Linn and Deschutes counties. McLeod-Skinner won Deschutes and Multnomah counties, both by large margins; Schrader won Clackamas, Marion and Linn counties by narrower margins.
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