My View: Responsible gun owners support background checks
We are gun owners, outdoors enthusiasts and veterans who seek reasonable and responsible solutions to preventing gun violence. Our organization, Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership, believes our Second Amendment rights come with responsibilities. We also believe in common-sense efforts to reduce gun violence and promote gun safety across the country, including universal background checks and safe and secure storage of firearms to prevent access by children or any unauthorized individuals.
Background checks on all gun sales or transfers are a critical tool to help prevent guns from falling into the hands of felons, domestic abusers, or the adjudicated dangerously mentally ill. Currently there is important legislation pending in Congress and in the Oregon Legislature to strengthen the background check system on gun sales.
In Congress, H.R. 8 would require a background check on every sale, ensuring that people prohibited from purchasing firearms cannot exploit loopholes and purchase guns through an unregulated sale at a gun show, online, or from an unlicensed seller. In addition, individuals would no longer be able to cross state lines solely to purchase a firearm in a state with less stringent background checks. H.R. 8 passed the U.S. House and is pending in the Senate.
In 2015, Oregon adopted universal background checks administered by the State Police which we strongly supported. However, our citizens are still vulnerable to the importation of firearms from states with less stringent laws. We need federal legislation that will apply to all.
Additionally, H.R. 1446 would provide the FBI more time to complete background checks and ensure that people prohibited from possessing firearms are not able to obtain them by default because of an incomplete background check. This deadly loophole in existing law was exploited by a white supremacist who killed nine people at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
Here in Oregon, there is a similar loophole in our existing background check statute. The Legislature is currently considering HB 2543 that would close this loophole and require all background checks to be completed and approved before a firearm sale can take place.
Background checks are in no way an undue burden on gun owners. They are a simple, practical way for all of us to do our part to help keep firearms out of the hands of those who would harm our fellow citizens. No responsible gun owner would want to unwittingly sell a firearm to a dangerous person who could not pass the check.
There is also an important benefit to us as gun owners. Our rights depend on the support of the American people. The public overwhelmingly supports background checks on all firearm sales. We cannot be frozen in the politics of the past. Our rights to responsible gun ownership are threatened by polarization and inaction. Gun owners can help lead the way to protect our fellow citizens and our ability to use our firearms responsibly. It shouldn't be an either or.
We support adoption of these measures at the federal and state levels to require and strengthen background checks on all gun sales.
Paul Kemp is a life long gun owner. He grew-up hunting with family and friends, and is the president and co-founder of Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership .
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