HB 2543 : Close the Charleston Loophole

Position: Support Status: House Rules Committee

A work session in the House Judiciary Committee on March 30, 2021 sent this bill to the House Rules Committee.

Firearm background checks should be completed and approved before the sale or transfer of a firearm. The Charleston Loophole, however, allows sales or transfers to be completed without a background check. HB 2543 will require gun sellers to respect existing laws, including longstanding laws prohibiting felons, abusers, fugitives from justice and other prohibited purchasers from buying guns.


March 30, 2021: The House Judiciary Committee sent the bill to the House Rules Committee. March 15, 2021: A work session in the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled for March 30, 2021 at 1:00 PM. The hearing date was originally scheduled for March 23.
Mar 4, 2021: Hearing held
Feb 8, 2021: Public Hearing scheduled for 2/18/2021 1:00 PM, House Committee On Judiciary, Remote F
Jan 19, 2021: Referred to House Judiciary
Jan 11, 2021: Introduced by Chief Sponsors Representative Reynolds and Sollman Regular Sponsors: Representatives Grayber and Hudson, Senators Burdick, and Lieber

To view a live stream of the meeting on March 30:

Prohibits transfer of firearm by gun dealer or private party if Department of State Police is unable to determine whether recipient is qualified to receive firearm.

No organization tracks the number of guns sold or transferred to prohibited purchasers because of the Charleston loophole.

Oregon State Police Firearm Instant Checks have skyrocketed since March 1, 2020 rising 46% statewide when compared with the same time one year ago. The rate of denial investigations, however, has plummeted from an average of 0.85% between March 2019 and January 2020 to 0.51% between March 2020 to January 2021.

At this time, it is not known if the drastic decrease in denial investigations reflects an increase in the number of prohibited firearm purchasers who illegally purchased firearms through the Charleston Loophole.

We do know, however, that 98 Oregonians were fatally shot (excluding suicides) between March 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020 and 133 were fatally shot between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021 (Gun Violence Archive). 

To state that more clearly: homicide shootings have risen in Oregon by 36% compared to the year immediately preceding the COVID-19 pandemic and the coincident surge in firearm sales (March 1, 2019 through February 29, 2020 compared to March 1, 2020 through February 28, 2021).

Oregon has been plunged into a tidal wave of gun sales. Homicide shootings are already on the rise. Closing the Charleston Loophole is one way to enforce existing laws and stop prohibited purchasers from possessing firearms.

FICS Requests FICS Investigations Percent Investigations
March 1, 2019 – January 31, 2020 285978 2419 0.85
March 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021 416718 2138 0.51


  • Over 90% of firearm background checks are completed within minutes. Background checks that take longer are referred to as “pending” background checks.
  • Under current law, a background check is allowed to pend for 3 business days. After that time, the seller is permitted but not required to sell the gun even if the check is not complete.
  • Allowing gun sales to proceed without a completed background check allows people who are prohibited from gun purchase and possession to evade the law and buy guns.  Across the United States in 2018 alone, 4,240 background checks were denied after three-day business days had elapsed. As a result, guns were sold to prohibited purchasers in at least 3,960 of those cases. (Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Justice Information Services Division, National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) 2018.)

  • The gun seller is not required to sell the gun without a background check. Walmart, for example, doesn’t sell guns without a completed background check.
  • HB 2543 only pertains to background checks that are pending. A gun seller may proceed with the gun sale as soon as the background check is approved.