Oregon lawmakers pass expanded gun background check bill

By Courtney Sherwood PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Oregon lawmakers on Monday passed a bill that will require background checks on nearly all gun buyers in the state, which is headed to the desk of a governor who told a local newspaper she would sign the new restrictions into law. The Oregon Firearms Safety Act expands background check requirements, already in place at stores and gun shows in the state, to include person-to-person and online gun sales. The measure passed by a vote of 32-28 in the state's House of Representatives after previous approval in the state Senate. "Background checks are the most systematic way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," Representative Dan Rayfield, a Democrat who voted in favor of the measure Monday, said in a statement. It was vehemently opposed by gun rights advocates and the state Republican Party, which decried as "excessive" the fines and potential jail time violators could face. After the vote, party officials noted that no Republicans supported the measure, while one Senate Democrat and three House Democrats had voted to oppose it. "This law is unjust and will create a black market in private party firearm sales, making it harder for law enforcement to do its job in investigating firearms-related crimes," the party said in a statement issued before Monday's vote. Oregon Governor Kate Brown, a Democrat, told The Oregonian newspaper she intends to sign the bill into law. Her approval would bring to seven the number of states, plus the District of Columbia, requiring universal background checks on all gun sales, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Gun control advocates maintain that tighter background checks are key to preventing violent acts by people already prohibited from owning guns, such as those with domestic violence or felony convictions. Efforts behind such legislation were reignited by the 2012 shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, which left 20 children and six adults dead. (Editing by Curtis Skinner and Alan Raybould)