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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon To Investigate Failed Firearm Background Checks


It's a crime for convicted felons or people with certain known mental health problems to attempt to buy a gun. But until recently not much happened in Oregon if someone tried to skirt the law.

That's now changing, according to an internal state police training bulletin obtained by the gun rights group Oregon Firearms Federation. The group's director, Kevin Starrett, said he spoke to two upstanding gun buyers who were questioned by state troopers after being inexplicably rejected by the background check computer.

"What they're doing is a ridiculous waste of time, but they're doing something and you know, we've gotta do something and this is something so this is what we're gonna do," Starrett said.

A spokesman for the Oregon State Police would not comment on the new policy and would not say how many such investigations have taken place.

The new policy is apparently in response to a request from Republican state senator Ted Ferrioli. In May he asked Governor John Kitzhaber to direct state police to enforce the state law that makes it a crime to attempt to buy a gun if the purchaser knows he or she is prohibited from possessing a firearm.