In 2016, The Gabrielle Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave Oregon a “C” rating for its substandard efforts on gun control.

This rating may improve soon, due to the passage of HB-4145, the so called “boyfriend bill.”  On February 22, the bill passed the Oregon State Senate 16-13, a vote divided, for the most part, along the usual party fault-line.

All but one of Oregon’s Democratic senators voted for the passage of HB 4145, and all Republicans voted against it.  Only Betsy Johnson (D) of Scappoose broke with her party to vote against the bill, which closes the so called “intimate partner loophole” in order to prevent unmarried partners who have previously been convicted of stalking, intimidation, threat, or domestic violence, from obtaining or possessing a firearm. (Existing law enables authorities to confiscate guns from abusers who are married to their victims.)

Some senators who voted against the gun-control measure voiced concerns that the bill was too vague or that, under this law, vengeful exes could seek retribution by taking former partners to court.  Previously, on February 15, the bill passed the Oregon House on a slightly more bi-partisan basis, with three Republicans voting “yes” and one Democrat voting “no.”

With the passage of this law, Oregon becomes the first state in the Union to pass any kind of gun control legislation since the most recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, in which 17 high school students were killed.  The bill has been working its way through the legislative process since January 22, 2018. 

A group of over 200 people, working with the Oregon chapter of MOMs Demand Action, a gun safety advocacy group, descended on the capitol in the weeks before passage to lobby their legislators.

“It was so exciting to see a simple gun safety bill pass the senate after all our hard work, even though Salem Senator, Jackie Winters, voted against it,” said Anita Owen, a member of Salem MOMs Demand Action.

The bill is now on the governor’s desk for signature. Governor Kate Brown (D) was a co-sponsor for the bill and has been lobbying tirelessly for its passage. In a statement released after the bill passed the Senate the governor said, “The bipartisan support for HB 4145 reflects what Oregonians and Americans have long felt and are now loudly urging — ending senseless gun violence is possible if we put politics aside and work together on practical solutions. . . We need national action and federal legislation. . . It’s long past time we hold the White House, Congress, and legislators accountable.”