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Wyden Discusses Brexit, Gun Control And Oil Trains


Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden in 2015. Wyden has been vocal about gun control measures in Congress.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden in 2015. Wyden has been vocal about gun control measures in Congress.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, has been vocal about the recent failures of gun control measures in the U.S. Senate.

Wyden also discussed this month’s oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon, and British voters’ decision to leave the European Union.

Wyden spoke with OPB All Things Considered host Kate Davidson on Friday. Here are four key takeaways from their conversation:

No-Fly, No-Buy

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate tabled a measure sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would prevent people on the no-fly list and one other terrorist watch list from purchasing guns and explosives. It failed by a small margin, earning 52 of the 60 votes it needed to proceed.

“You don’t get on these lists just by accident,” Wyden said. “You get on these lists because you represent a real threat to the security and well-being of the country.”

Wyden said he will continue to work with his colleagues to get the needed votes to allow the measure to proceed.

The Search For ‘Common Sense’ Gun Laws

Wyden also discussed the need for what he called “common sense” gun laws.

“I think the American people, certainly Oregonians, have just had it. They’re saying it’s time for some common sense measures,” Wyden said. “These are measures that don’t infringe on the Second Amendment. These are not partisan kind of issues. We ought to close the loopholes, and the background check law, and we ought to make sure that guns don’t get into the hands of terrorists.”

Repeated Call To Halt Oil Trains

The Federal Railroad Administration found the oil train derailment was caused by broken lag bolts, according to a preliminary finding.

State and Union Pacific railroad inspectors examined the tracks shortly before the derailment.

“There’s a real question about the integrity of the inspection process, and of course, the railroad invariably says, ‘We’ve taken care of the problem,’” Wyden said. “But Sen. [Jeff] Merkley and I, and the governor [Kate Brown], have said, ‘That’s it. We have got to have a moratorium until these safety issues are addressed.’” 

Brexit Could Affect Oregon Trade

Finally, Wyden, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, spoke about Thursday’s “Brexit” vote, which will remove Britain from the European Union and could affect U.S. trade.

“It, of course, is early,” Wyden said. “But what I will say is one out of five jobs in Oregon depends on international trade. The trade jobs often pay better than do the non-trade jobs if they have a higher value added component that reflects additional productivity. So I’ll be very involved in monitoring this.”

Wyden said he believes it will take a few years to see any real changes.

“Clearly, around the world, there is this great uprising and a concern that existing political institutions are not meeting the needs of working families,” Wyden said. “Early evidence suggests that young people by a 3-1 majority wanted to remain in the EU, which I think is a little bit of a signal that there’s a real debate going on about this.”

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