Gov. Brown announces new push for gun restrictions; critic calls move 'opportunistic'

Conservative radio host Lars Larson broadcasts from his studio in downtown Portland while wearing a holstered handgun.

Conservative critics slammed Oregon Gov. Kate Brown after she announced a new effort to crack down on gun violence.

"Responsible gun owners like me keep all their guns locked up except the one I'm carrying right now," conservative radio host Lars Larson told KATU on Friday while wearing a holstered handgun.

The governor's plan comes in the wake of Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 people dead.

Brown said she's taking aim at two loopholes including one called the "boyfriend loophole."

The governor, her fellow Democrats and others say closing it would save lives by expanding the types of relationships that can be included in domestic violence cases. They say that would help keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of certain domestic violence crimes.

"On Dec. 10, 2013, my daughter, Nicolette Alias, was shot seven times with a 9-mm Glock,” Madeleine Garcelon said outside the Oregon State Capitol in June.

Had the boyfriend loophole been closed at that time, Garcelon believes her daughter would still be alive.

“My daughter had a restraining order. He violated that,” Garcelon said.

In an audio statement released Friday, Gov. Brown said her thoughts and prayers are with those suffering from gun violence in Oregon and throughout the country.

"But I know my condolences will never be enough to keep families safe from violence," Brown said. "We, as lawmakers, must put politics aside and work together to keep our communities safe."

To do that, the governor wants lawmakers to work on closing two loopholes: The boyfriend loophole and the "Charleston loophole," which allows a gun buyer to purchase a firearm if a background check takes more than three days to complete.

It's how Dylann Roof, the man who murdered nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, obtained a handgun.

"These policies will keep guns out of the wrong hands and help keep our promise to families across the state to keep our communities safe," Brown explained.

Critics like Larson aren't buying it.

"The governor is being incredibly politically opportunistic as she heads up to re-election," Larson said. "They say this is a terrible loophole. It causes all kinds of problems. Well, tell me where they are other than Charleston because in most cases the gun stores I do business with are not gonna sell you a gun without an approval. ... Laws don't stop lawbreaking people from doing things. Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas mass murderer who killed 58 people -- there are 20,000 laws in America at the federal, state and local level. He broke a bunch of them. None of those laws stopped him. One more law would not have stopped him."

Democrats tried and failed to close the boyfriend and Charleston loopholes during Oregon's last legislative session.

But Gov. Brown wants them to try again next year.

Meanwhile, FBI statistics show last year the Charleston loophole allowed 4,170 people with criminal records, mental illnesses or other disqualifying issues to buy firearms. In 2015, the loophole put 2,892 guns in the wrong hands.

Firearms sold via the loophole -- officially called "delayed denials" -- are referred to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for retrieval.

KATU is awaiting a response from the ATF regarding the percentage of delayed denials the agency actually retrieves.

A 2016 audit of the FBI's criminal background check system by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Inspector General found the agency "generally has an effective internal control system and quality control process."

The audit also "determined that ATF recovered 93 percent of the (125) firearm recoveries we reviewed."

Regarding Gov. Brown's announcement, Oregon's Republican Party sent KATU the following statement:

"Charleston Loophole

It seems clear that the effort to permit an indefinite background check delay will be used to effectively deny Oregonians their 2nd Amendment Constitutional rights and would be dangerous for the law-abiding citizens who simply want to protect themselves and their families, especially women. Instead, Gov. Brown should urgently dedicate herself to ensuring that the Oregon State Police can reliably, quickly, and thoroughly perform background checks within the three day waiting period already mandated by federal law. Sadly, Kate Brown has a pathetic track record of holding state government accountable to performing more efficiently and has squandered much of the public's trust in her leadership as a result. If she can't get this done, then denying Oregonians the right to protect themselves isn’t the answer. Getting a new governor who can is.

Boyfriend Loophole

There seems to be some disagreement in the debate about this topic as to whether there is sufficient information to support the existence of this loophole, which some say might not exist if Kate Brown enforces federal law. We await more details on this proposal, particularly from the Governor, before commenting further.

In General

If Kate Brown were serious about keeping Oregonians safe, she would end sanctuary to illegal aliens involved in serious crimes and actively assist ICE in getting them out of our state. However, she is clearly more committed to playing identity politics and delivering for her out of state billionaire paymaster Michael Bloomberg, than she is in peace and safety of our state’s citizens."

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