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Adams, other gun control advocates call for tougher background checks

Family members of shooting victims speak out at City Hall
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Pastor Lynne Smouse Lopez of the Ainsworth United Church of Christ rallies to strengthen background checks for firearm sales at the "Fix Gun Checks Truck Tour" Monday morning.

The day after four people were wounded in an apparent gang-related shooting in Northeast Portland, Mayor Sam Adams appeared with family members affected by gun violence and gun control advocates to call for background checks for virtually all firearm sales, including private ones.

Speaking at a Monday afternoon press conference at City Hall, Adams said the current national background check system has serious loopholes that allow unqualified people to buy guns. He and other speakers endorsed a bill introduced by New York U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer intended to close the loopholes.

"City Hall is a full partner in these efforts," Adams said.

Also appearing was Teressa Raiford, whose nephew Andre Payton was shot and killed in Old Town on Sept. 26, 2010.

"It is too easy for people in Oregon to buy illegal guns," Raiford said.

The press conference was part of a national series of similar events organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a lobbying group representing mayors across the country, including Adams and Eugene Mayor Kitty Pierce.

The "Fix Gun Checks Truck Tour" began in the wake of the Tucson shootings that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. The shooter, Jared Loughner, should have been barred from buying the guns used in the incident because he was an admitted drug user. But he passed two background checks because the federal database used to check gun buyers did not have that information.

Schumer's bill would put more pressure on states to report the names of prohibited people to the database. In addition to drug users, they include convicted felons, the mentally ill and domestic violence offenders.

The bill would also require private gun sellers to verify, either through law enforcement agencies or licensed firearm dealers, that people buying their guns are not on the list.

The tour is headed up by Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was killed at the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. The alleged shooter, who took his own life, had been diagnosed as mentally ill and should not have been allowed to buy the guns he used.

The tour includes a large, portable billboard displaying the estimated number of Americans killed by guns this year. Today's number was 2,449, which represents the total of the 34 people reportedly killed by guns every day.

The four people shot in Northeast Portland on Sunday all received non-life threatening injuries and are expected to recover. The incident was the fourth gang-related shooting in the city since March 12.