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Oregon Governor Wants 'Boyfriend Loophole' In Gun Law Closed

<p>Oregon Gov. Kate Brown responds to a question at a gubernatorial debate at Winston Churchill High School in Eugene on Oct. 6, 2016.</p>

Bradley W. Parks

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown responds to a question at a gubernatorial debate at Winston Churchill High School in Eugene on Oct. 6, 2016.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown urged lawmakers Wednesday to consider strengthening the state’s gun laws by closing what’s been dubbed the “boyfriend loophole.”

The measure, House Bill 4145, would broaden a current firearm prohibition to include people convicted of domestic violence or stalking a partner despite their marital status. Currently, if a couple is married and the husband is convicted of a domestic violence crime, he would be prohibited from purchasing a firearm. But the ban doesn’t cover boyfriends or close family members, such as an uncle.

While testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee, the governor cited statistics saying there have been 66 fatalities in the state due to domestic violence in the past two years. More than half of the victims died from gunshots, Brown said.

“The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that woman will be killed,” Brown said.  

The House bill also mandates a tracking mechanism goes into place when a person who is prohibited from buying a firearm attempts to illegally do so.

Keely Hopkins, a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association in Oregon, pushed back on the measure. Hopkins said the new definition is overly vague and could end up meaning anyone who co-habitated with a person is at risk of losing their right to bear arms.

Brown has pushed a gun safety agenda since she was elected as Oregon's governor. She was the beneficiary of a major donation from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in her last election cycle in 2016.

Gun control could be another campaign issue in 2018 where many expect Brown will face Republican Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Lauren Dake