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Oregon governor signs bill expanding gun background checks

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Monday requiring background checks on firearm transfers between private parties, making Oregon the eighth state to require screening on nearly all gun sales.

The law, which takes effect immediately, requires gun buyers and sellers who aren’t related to visit a licensed gun dealer who can run a background check.

“We have an obligation to protect Oregonians from gun violence,” said Brown, a Democrat. “If we want to keep our kids, schools and communities safe we must make it harder for dangerous people to get guns.”

Republicans vehemently opposed the measure. They say it will only burden gun owners who are committed to following the law without changing the behavior of people willing to break it.

“The good intentions behind Senate Bill 941 do not change the fact that it is a deeply flawed and unenforceable piece of legislation that targets responsible, law-abiding Oregonians,” said Rep. Mike McLane, the top Republican in the House.

Brown’s signature caps a long campaign by Oregon Democrats seeking stronger gun laws, which intensified following a 2012 shooting at a suburban shopping mall packed with Christmas shoppers. The bill’s critics point out that the rifle used in that shooting was stolen. A 22-year-old gunman killed three people and injured a third before turning the gun on himself.

Backed by national gun-control groups, Democrats pushed for background check legislation in 2013 and 2014 but didn’t have enough votes. The path to victory was paved when Democratic candidates picked up three legislative seats in the 2014 election, some of them with the help of gun-control groups such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.

Three Democratic lawmakers are facing recall petitions that cite their support for expanded background checks, among other grievances, though the recall backers must collect thousands of signatures in a short time.

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