Oregon passes law requiring background checks for private gun sales

As new Oregon gun control legislation goes into effect, gun owners need to be aware of how this may impact any transactions of firearms they engage in.

If you are a resident of Oregon and are thinking about selling your gun to someone who is not a family member, you may want to consider recent state legislation that just went into effect. Failure to comply with this new law, which goes into effective in August 2015, could mean criminal penalties. In May, Governor Kate Brown signed into law Senate Bill 941. Also known as the Oregon Firearms Safety Act, the new law impacts private gun sales and transactions by mandating background checks and other specific requirements. While there are exceptions to this new gun control law, for the most part background checks in Oregon gun sales are now a broad-sweeping requirement.

The new Oregon Firearms Safety Act and what it means for gun retailers and private owners

The bill was first introduced in March of 2015 by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Floyd Prozanski. The overall goal of this bill was to close the "Internet loophole" of gun sales between private owners in which there were no background check requirements. No longer can one private gun owner post a picture of a firearm online and then meet to sell the item privately with the potential buyer. The law in Oregon now requires that the buyer and seller transact before a licensed gun retailer. The gun retailer must then run a background check on the buyer. Going even further, if the background check comes back showing the buyer is prohibited by law enforcement from purchasing a gun or other type of firearm, then the Oregon Department of State Police must notify the relevant local law enforcement of the situation.

Exceptions to the new background check requirement for private firearm transactions include family members, law enforcement, guns and firearms that were inherited as well as certain temporary transactions. While democrats in the state house and senate are thrilled with this legislative passage, as Oregon is only the eighth state to pass such a law, critics are concerned about the potential unintended consequences. Instead of closing private gun sales via Internet loopholes, the law could drive buyers to black markets and make it harder for authorities to enforce gun laws. Furthermore, some gun shop owners are worried they will be spending more time doing background checks than running their businesses.

Harsh penalties for those that fail to comply

If a background check is not conducted properly in accordance with the new law, there are harsh potential penalties listed within the act. First time offenders can receive up to a year in jail, $6,250 in fines and in some cases both. For repeat offenders the penalties go up, with a maximum of ten years in jail, $250,000 in fines and in some cases both.

Questions about the impact of this new gun control law?

With gun laws changing in Oregon and going into effect very soon, it is important that gun owners, retailers and potential buyers are aware of the new requirements and how they can impact their situation. If you have questions about this new law in Oregon, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.