PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon judge will decide by Jan. 3 whether to keep in place or lift his order blocking part of a new, voter-approved gun safety measure requiring a completed criminal background check before a gun can be sold or transferred.
During a hearing Friday, an Oregon special assistant attorney general, Harry B. Wilson, urged Harney County Judge Robert S. Raschio to allow the completed background check requirement to take effect, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Wilson argued it will save lives, is constitutional and wasn’t directly challenged by the plaintiffs.
Under federal law, firearms dealers can sell guns without a completed background check if the check takes longer than three business days. That’s how a man in a Charleston, South Carolina, bought his gun in 2015 and killed nine people at a church. The new measure in Oregon would end that practice.
Raschio this month paused all parts of the Oregon gun control measure. He issued a preliminary injunction against its restrictions on the sale, manufacture and use of large-capacity magazines and a temporary restraining order on the requirement that a permit be obtained to buy a gun.
The state has said it will be ready to support a permit program in March.
Raschio’s orders came as a result of a lawsuit brought by Virginia-based Gun Owners of America and two Harney County gun owners that seeks to halt the measure. Burns, the town where the lawsuit was filed, is more than 280 miles (450 kilometers) southeast of Portland in a rural and sparsely populated corner of the state.
The hearing Friday focused mainly on the background check provision.
“Although a significant percentage of background checks are completed automatically within minutes, many require additional time,” Wilson wrote to the court. “As a result, in some instances, individuals with felony criminal histories can obtain a firearm because the transferer can deliver the firearm after three days and before the background check is complete. This has led to horrifying consequences.”
Tony Aiello Jr., an attorney for Gun Owners of America, argued in the hearing that the federal law ensures a gun buyer isn’t waiting indefinitely for their background check to be completed.
He argued that Oregonians, under Measure 114, will have no guarantee that their background checks will be processed in a timely manner.
He added that nothing will stop the state from taking its time to complete the checks.
“This is infringement because ... they have the ability to slow-walk background checks or to not do them whatsoever,” he said.