Senator Jeff Kruse - February 7th, 2014


Senator Jeff Kruse
R-Roseburg, District 1

Phone: 503-986-1701    900 Court St. NE, S-211 Salem Oregon 97301
Email:     Website:

 Working Hard For You


FEBRUARY 7, 2014



We had an interesting end to the first week of this Session, as the snow forced cancellation of late afternoon committees yesterday and all activities for today.  Because the heaviest of the snow is south of Salem I am not sure at this point is I will be able to go home this weekend, but I will sort that out as the day progresses.


The one significant event of yesterday was the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on SB 1551, the background check bill.  To be perfectly clear, I will say at the beginning I will vote no in committee and on the floor and I will explain my reasons in a little bit.


Here is how the hearing went.  First we were given some numbers by the state police, but not really anything that was helpful.  Second there was a panel that included Governor Kitzhaber and Mark Kelly (the husband of Gabby Gifford from Arizona) arguing in favor of the bill.  Next we had a panel of people from gun groups arguing against the bill.  The committee was allowed to ask questions of both of these groups, and I will get into to that later.  This was followed by a succession of three person panels alternating between pro and con.  Each person was allowed two minutes to speak and committee members were prohibited from making any comments or asking any questions, which is clearly not the way committee hearings are supposed to go unless one already has a predetermined outcome.


I do want to say I have the utmost sympathy for those who have been impacted by gun violence and I am willing to look at anything that might reduce the numbers.  This bill will not.  Take a look at the high profile cases used as examples.  In the cases of Aurora, Arizona, Fort Hood, the Navy Yard, and Virginia Tech the shooters had all passed background checks.  In the cases of Sandy Hook and the Clackamas Town Center the guns were stolen.  In the Thurston School case it was his mother’s gun.  So clearly expanded background checks would not have stopped any of them.


This takes me to the testimony of Mr. Kelly.  When I pointed out to him the fact his wife’s shooter had passed a background check he suggested the checks need to be enhanced.  He pointed out that the shooter might have had mental health issues and a good background check could have discovered that.  The current system will discover any arrests and convictions including anyone who has been adjudicated on mental health grounds.  To go to the point Mr. Kelly suggests would be to give the police and the FBI complete access to all of your medical records.  I don’t think this is a place we want to go, although it does fit in with all of the data the government is trying to collect on people through other means like Cover Oregon.


The bill itself is confusing as it exempts certain sales between relatives and actually creates a new definition of relative.  For example I think I could sell a gun to my step son without a background check but I am not sure he could sell one to me.  We have asked and received from our Legislative Council a legal opinion on some of these issues.  The question I asked in committee was “if I loaned a gun to my girlfriend without a background check would I be breaking the law?”  The committee administrator read part of the opinion and concluded I would not.  At that point I interrupted and read the rest of the opinion which clearly indicated I would.  This bill is confusing enough without receiving false information.


During the 2013 Session I made a proposal to do an IT upgrade to the current system.  This would have allowed for quicker response times and more accurate results.  If the intent is to keep the guns out of the hands of bad guys this would have helped immediately.  The proposal was rejected.  This and many other things that have happened over the course of time make me wonder what the real objective is.

The capper of the whole hearing was the testimony from a woman from Portland advocating for more background checks.  Her example was guns being sold out of the trunks of cars in Portland.  How would a background check impact this type of activity?  The bad guys clearly don’t care about the law.  Adding new provisions will not solve the targeted problem and potentially making it harder for people who obey the law is clearly not the answer.


This bill is scheduled for a work session in committee on Wednesday.  Senator Prozanski has told some he has the votes, and he does not.  This is being done purely for political reasons.  I wish we were spending this time looking for real solutions.




Senator Jeff Kruse







If you are interested in reading my past newsletters please click on my webpage link below:

Update your subscriptions, modify your password or e-mail address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your User Profile Page. You will need to use your e-mail address to log in. If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact