Legislation that would limit but still allow default gun sales when background checks take longer than expected was held over in the Oregon House on Friday amid concerns the proposal would fail.
House Bill 4147 — the only significant gun-related measure left alive this session — will instead return for consideration Monday.
Republicans remain unified against the measure, as they are on most gun bills. And on Friday, House leaders also realized that as many as four of the chamber’s 35 Democrats also have doubts.
Normally, that wouldn’t doom a bill, leaving a 31-vote majority. But this week isn’t normal. Rep. Brent Barton, an Oregon City attorney, has been out this week for work reasons, leaving Democrats with just 30 votes in favor of the bill. Barton is set to return Monday.
The soft support speaks to the controversy that surrounds any gun issue, especially in an election year. It also reflects the barrage of tough votes leaders have asked their moderate and swing-seat members to take, from raising the minimum wage to boosting the cap on damage awards in wrongful death cases.
Right now, Oregon gun-buyers can obtain firearms by default if a background check, conducted by the Oregon State Police, takes longer than three days. HB 4147 initially sought to extend that waiting period for as long as an investigation takes.
The bill’s sponsor, House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, has since agreed to scale that down. An amendment designed to win approval from the House Judiciary Committee will preserve default sales but extend the waiting period to 10 business days.
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