Oregon lawmakers face recall following gun control votes

Oregon Democrat House Majority Leader Val Hoyle, Rep. Susan McLain and Sen. Chuck Riley are the subject of a recall attempt due to their championship for gun control.

Oregon Democratic House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (left), Rep. Susan McLain and Sen. Chuck Riley are the subject of a recall attempt due to their championship for gun control.

At least one state senator and two members of the house may have to fight for their seats due to a grass roots push by local voters to show them the door.

Among those targeted is Sen. Chuck Riley, D-Hillsboro, a lead sponsor of SB 941, a proposal that would expand background checks to include most private gun transfers. The freshman senator came to the chamber last fall as part of a $600,000 influx of cash from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund that allowed him to narrowly unseat a GOP incumbent who was against expanding checks.

In the House, Rep. Susan McLain, D-Forest Grove, and Majority Leader Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, who have voiced support for SB 941 and are now tasked with guiding it through that body, are also facing similar recall votes, The Oregonian reported.

The recall petition against Hoyle was filed by gun shop owner Jason Thiesfeld of Junction City who testified against SB 941 and alleges that the House leader is catering to big campaign donors rather than the needs of constituents.

“I’ve been in Oregon for 35 years, and (state lawmakers) keep cramming their agenda down our throats and going after our rights little by little,” Thiesfeld told the Register Guard.

To make a recall effort happen, Thiesfeld has to obtain 3,600 signatures, the equivalent of 15 percent of votes cast in Hoyle’s district during the last election, within the next 90 days.

Hoyle responded to the reports of the recall petition, which have thus far never been successful in Oregon, with defense of the bill currently before her in the House.

“Unfortunately, a fringe group has started a recall effort against me over my support of a bill that will close the background checks loophole for private gun sales,” she said in a statement. “I believe that this bill will save lives by ensuring that this gaping loophole isn’t used to put guns into the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, and people with severe mental illness.”

The petitions against Riley and McLain have been filed by constituent Ben Busch of Hillsboro who – like Thiesfeld – cited the lawmakers’ support for increased gun control as a major reason. He advised The Oregonian that his efforts are separate from the gun shop owner, but mutually supportive.

“We’re aware of each others’ actions and support each other where we can,” Busch said. “There’s probably more on the way. It wouldn’t surprise me if we have more soon.”

The recall efforts have already received the vow of support from the Oregon Firearms Federation, a state gun rights group.

Support from national groups, Guns.com found out Thursday, could be on the horizon as well.

“I totally support these recall efforts,” Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, told Guns.com. “Gun owners need to make these politicians pay the price.”

There is recent precedent for historic recalls of state legislators over their support for gun control that included expanded background checks.

In 2013, Colorado Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron were the target of grassroots recall efforts following their endorsement of strict, widespread gun control initiatives. Despite some $350,000 in funding from the Bloomberg group to help defend their seats, Morse lost the recall by 343 votes and Giron lost by 4,154.

“We were successful with recall efforts in Colorado,” Gottlieb said. “If we all work together we will also be successful in Oregon. These recalls send a strong message that if you attack our gun rights we will come after you at the ballot box.”

Erika Soto Lamb, communications director for Everytown, responded to Guns.com’s request for comment on the Oregon effort by pointing out that Democrats regained the 2013 seats lost in Colorado during the following election cycle.

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