Oregon Republicans deny Senate a Quorum; Dems Sacrifice Gun Control Bill

May 13, 2019

By

Matthew Hoy

Oregon Democrats have a 3/5ths supermajority in the state Senate which allows them basically free reign over the legislative priorities of the chamber. However, to do actual business, there needs to be a quorum, which is defined as 2/3rds of voting members being present. Since last week, the Republican minority has sent only one senator to the Senate sessions, denying the Democrats the ability to operate.

With Democrats anxious to pass greater funding for public schools and a raft of other progressive goals, Republicans Monday agreed to return with the promise that bills on vaccinations and gun control are pulled from consideration.

Democrats have reportedly agreed to kill two bills that Republicans dislike: Senate Bill 978,which strengthens gun laws and House Bill 3063, which ends non-medical exemptions for families who choose not to vaccinate their children.

House Bill 3063 had the following provisions included:

  • Allowed firearms retailers the option of raising the minimum age to purchase any firearm to 21. Some firearms retailers had raised the age to 21 on their own, but were then hit with age-discrimination lawsuits.
  • Required firearms to be locked up when not in use. Many gun-rights advocates see such laws as a direct repudiation of the Supreme Court's Heller case which struck down D.C.'s "safe storage" rules that required firearms to be disassembled and unloaded when not actively being used for self-defense.
  • Would allow colleges, universities and municipalities to ban guns on campus or in other public buildings..
  • Placed additional restrictions on the sale of unfinished frames or receivers (aka 80-percent lowers) by requiring background checks to be conducted for things that are not legally considered firearms.
  • Makes a gun seller liable for injury to a person or property for two years if they do not include a trigger or cable lock in the sale.
  • Makes it a crime to fail to notify police within 72 hours of the theft of a firearm (or 72 hours within when police believe you should have known the firearm was stolen).
  • The law also bans undetectable firearms—which are already illegal according to federal law.

With the deal brokered with Democrats, the new restrictions in Oregon are being abandoned, at least for this legislative session.

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