The "boyfriend loophole" is about to close.
In a 16-13 vote split nearly perfectly along party lines, the Oregon Senate this afternoon passed a bill that will expand prohibitions on gun possession in Oregon to include people who abuse or stalk their significant other, even if they haven't lived with the victim.
The Oregon House passed the bill last week. Gov. Kate Brown will certainly sign it.
"Closing the 'Intimate Partner Loophole' is an important step to keep Oregonians safer, and to keep guns out of the wrong hands," Brown said in a statement. "The bipartisan support for HB 4145 reflects what Oregonians and Americans have long felt and are now loudly urging — ending senseless gun violence is possible if we put politics aside and work together on practical solutions."
About that "bipartisan" support: It wasn't visible in the Senate. Republicans voted in lockstep against House Bill 4145 this afternoon, and moderate Democrat Sen. Betsy Johnson joined them. In last week's House vote, three Republican representatives crossed the aisle to vote in favor.
The bill passes as the country is once again in the throes of a heated debate over gun control, though HB 4145 doesn't have much to say about bump stocks or AR-15s. Rather, it expands existing prohibitions on possessing guns for those found to have stalked or abused their partner.
Current law prohibits gun possession if an abuser is married to their victim, lives (or has lived) with their victim, or shares a child with their victim. Until now, the rule hasn't applied to a significant other who hasn't lived with their victim.
When the House passed HB 4145 last week, Republicans didn't speak much on the floor about their overwhelming opposition. Today was different, with multiple Republican senators (and Johnson) standing to speak about what they saw as the bill's imperfections. Republicans twice moved to refer the bill back to committee for more work, but both motions failed.
With the battle lines fairly clear, it fell to state Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) to offer final thoughts before a vote. He invoked his sister, who was murdered in 1973.
"Her murderer was her boyfriend," he said. "Her murderer was her intimate partner. Her murderer killed her with a handgun. As an owner of guns for 45 years, I stand before you and I say it is time… to take actions that are reasonable steps."