Oregon State Police say they won’t get through background check backlog before gun measure takes effect

By Lillian Mongeau Hughes (OPB)
Dec. 3, 2022 2 a.m.

New gun law set to go into effect next week will require a permit to purchase for anyone with a pending firearm background check, according to state police

In the weeks before a new, voter-approved gun law is set to go into effect, the firearms instant background check unit of the Oregon State Police is dealing with “unprecedented volumes of firearms transactions never seen before in the program’s 26-year history,” according to a statement released Friday.

As a result, anyone whose background check is still pending when the new law goes into effect next week will have to comply with the law’s requirements, such as obtaining a permit to purchase a firearm, the statement says. An application for a permit-to-purchase is being finalized now and will be available for download from the state police website on Dec. 8, the day the new law is set to go into effect.

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“The Permit-to-Purchase program at Oregon State Police will be a manual paper process until new technical systems can be designed and implemented,” the statement reads.

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Applications must be turned into a resident’s local law enforcement agency said Capt. Stephanie Bigman, spokesperson for the state police, in an email to OPB Friday afternoon.

The voter-approved law is facing multiple legal challenges, including a pending request in federal court for a temporary restraining order that would block the law from going into effect. A judge is reviewing the request, and a decision on whether or not to issue a stay is expected early next week.

The current backlog is 41,160 applications deep according to Bigman. The number of firearms sold in Oregon is not recorded. Background check requests are the only proxy for gun sales. The average daily number of background checks has jumped from around 900 to 3,355 since voters approved the new regulations by a slim margin on Nov. 8.

To avoid a delay in purchasing, state police recommend potential gun buyers carefully fill out their background check requests to avoid incomplete or incorrect information. Gun buyers are also advised to ensure that their online records are correct when possible – that the DMV has a current address, for example.

“The agencies contacted most for missing or incomplete information are the Courts or District Attorneys’ offices throughout the United States,” the police statement reads. “There are no required timelines for the agencies to respond to our requests for missing or incomplete information.”

Currently, state law allows guns to be sold to people whose background checks are still pending as long as three business days have passed. The new law will close that loophole.

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