The day after Republicans offered more empty words, cynical thoughts and meaningless prayers, Democrats in Oregon actually did something in response to America's gun violence epidemic:
A day after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida high school, Oregon representatives took up a bill expanding prohibitions on possessing guns for those who stalk or abuse their partners. House Bill 4145 changes state law to ensure those prohibitions would expand to people convicted of abusing or stalking their significant other, regardless of whether the two people are or have been married.
The legislation has been a priority of Governor Kate Brown, and, as with all gun legislation, has proved a lightning rod in this year's short session. Dozens of citizens have written in on the bill, and the NRA has urged it be killed.
In Oregon, convicted domestic abusers and stalkers have been barred from gun ownership since 2015, but that law did not apply to abusers who were not married to, did not have children with, or did not live with their victim. HB 4145 closed this "boyfriend loophole." Three Republicans voted yes, one Democrat voted no. LEAP Forward has graded action on this bill from introduction.
This is a victory not only for people who want to see action from elected officials, but for the victims of domestic violence, who as we've seen time and again, are often a mass shooter's first victims. In Oregon alone 250 people were killed by domestic abusers over the last decade, mostly women and children. More than 80% were killed by their husband or boyfriend.
It also shows what is possible when lawmakers interested in action are given the power to take it. But ... the job is not done - the bill is not a slam dunk to pass the Senate, as Nigel Jaquiss points out in Willamette Week:
Even though the Senate majority is by essentially the same margin as Democrats' 35-to-25 lead in the House, senators under the leadership of Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) have proven far less friendly than House members on a wide range of progressive issues, ranging from tenant protections to family medical leave to environmental safeguards.
The gun control legislation will be a test of wills: Brown's and Courtney's. Who wins will signal whether the governor can deliver a high-profile win in an election year.