SALEM — Three Oregon House Democrats voted with Republicans Monday, May 4, on a controversial gun background check bill, Senate Bill 941, which would expand gun background checks in the state.
That bill passed 32-28 and is expected to be signed by Gov. Kate Brown.
One of those voting no was Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay.
“It took me quite some time to come to a position I was comfortable with," McKeown said. “I struggled to fulfill this obligation to constituents on this bill because I had very strong opinions on both sides, as you can imagine.”
McKeown said her office received nearly 7,000 emails and hundreds of phone calls regarding the bill over the last month.
“It was an issue that people on both sides felt very strongly about,” she said.
She said there were some provisions of the bill that she agreed with, but also said the bill needed some changes.
In the end, she voted no.
“My decision came down to casting a vote in a manner that I believe honors our rural lifestyle,” she said, “and a heritage that certainly defined me as I was growing up. I don’t think only mine, but thousands of Oregonians across the state who live in rural communities who believe that the rural lifestyle has meaning and value.”
All House Republicans voted no on the bill.
One of those was state Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, a retired police officer.
He said sponsors of the bill, including state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, have never given a solid argument for expanding background checks.
"They did not have one of these terrible stories about these murders, these deaths, that they could attribute to the transfer between two private individuals,” he said.
He also said the bill just creates a roadblock.
“The bill that came over really makes it difficult for private transfers, when it doesn’t have to be,” Krieger said. “It does not allow the private transfer anymore between two individuals, even if one of the individuals runs the background checks through the state police."
He said the bill should allow individuals to call Oregon State Police on their own, rather than go through a gun dealer.
Another Democrat who voted no was state Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie.
“I voted against it because it’s a flawed bill,” he said. “Not only is it flawed, but the proponents of the bill forbid any amendment of the bill. I just think that is horrible, horrible, horrible process and I think it’s the antithesis of a sound process, a democratic process.”
State Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, also a retired police officer, was also a no vote.
“Law-abiding citizens are not our problem,” he said. “I think this will have a disproportionate effect on good, decent people. I don’t know how it’s going to be enforced. I don’t know how you can enforce that.”