As I predicted yesterday, there’s a growing chorus of county sheriffs in Oregon joining Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan, who announced that she won’t enforce a new ban on “large capacity” magazines that’s a part of Measure 114, a contentious gun control initiative that looks like it’s going to be narrowly approved by voters; primarily those in Portland and the surrounding suburbs.
In most of the state’s counties opposition to Measure 114 is running high. 70% of Linn County voters have rejected Measure 114, and now the sheriffs in two other counties hostile to the new restriction on gun owners are vowing not to enforce the magazine ban if the measure is enacted into law.
Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen posted to social media applauding and jumping on board with Duncan’s statement.
“As Union County Sheriff I agree 100% with Sheriff Duncan! This is an infringement on our constitutional rights and will not be enforced by my office,” his post reads. “This measure will only harm law abiding gun owners and result in wasted time with additional redundant background checks.”
Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe said in an interview that he also does not intend to enforce magazine capacity limits.
“That is just the way it’s going to be. We have already made that decision,” he said. “The supreme law of the land is a constitution of the United States, and I believe that this measure is totally contrary to the Constitution.”
When asked whether he believes a sheriff has the authority to supersede state law, Wolfe said, “I don’t think this is superseding anything. I don’t believe that I am superseding state law by not enforcing it. Anybody in law enforcement, including the state police, including the governor, has to pick and choose what laws they are going to be able to enforce.”
It’s odd: I’ve never seen that question asked of Democratic sheriffs and prosecutors who’ve said they won’t enforce low-level laws against marijuana, even though they remain on the books. Heck, just over the past four months we’ve seen police and prosecutors in New Orleans and Austin, Texas announce that they won’t be enforcing any state-level abortion laws, and a number of other Democrat prosecutors in red states have done the same without the corresponding concern from the media that the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement or any pledge not to enforce a gun control law receives.
“This is not an academic conversation. This is a very real conversation where people’s lives could be destroyed by these criminal prosecutions,” Austin City Council Member Chito Vela told Politico. Vela proposed a city resolution to not enforce Texas’ abortion law.
While abortion rights advocates welcome the pronouncements, they predict the promises won’t be enough to persuade most abortion providers to continue practicing.
“Local officials who are willing to stand up and make clear where their values are and make clear that these bans will be harmful is an important step,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, which supports abortion access. “But I can’t say that it would give me enough confidence if I were a provider.”
The arguments could be used against enforcing the magazine ban and the permit-to-purchase mandates that comprise Measure 114, though so far we haven’t seen any sheriff come out and say they’ll refuse to cooperate with the permit-to-purchase section of the ballot measure. Instead, they’re warning about the consequences to civil rights and public safety if Measure 114 takes effect 30 days after the election results have been certified. Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kraber told residents in an alert this week that “firearms dealers will not be able to sell a firearm to anyone without a permit; since the permit system does not exist, all legal firearms sales in the State of Oregon will stop until a permit system is established.”
Because of the immediate harm to the Second Amendment rights of Oregonians, Kraber is optimistic that a judge will halt enforcement of Measure 114 “until a permit process is established or the constitutionality of the measure is decided in what will likely be a court challenge.” Here’s hoping whatever judge is assigned to the inevitable lawsuit chooses Option B and prevents the new measure from being enforced while the constitutionality of the gun control measures is litigated. Even when a permit system is created, the process itself is going to deprive a number of law-abiding Oregonians from accessing their fundamental right to armed self-defense thanks to the increased fees and training mandates, as well as the 14-day waiting period that’s baked in to the measure.
I’m pretty optimistic about our odds of success in court as well, but I’m also hoping that more Oregon sheriffs go public with their plans not to enforce the magazine ban that’s likely to go into effect before the end of the year. In fact, I’ll be reaching out to sheriffs’ departments across the state today to ask them about their plans, and I’ll hopefully be able to provide an update over the weekend or Monday at the latest.
A note from Cam: Now that the midterms are over, we need to look ahead to the threats gun owners face in Washington, D.C. and statehouses around the country, as well as support pro-Second Amendment officials and legislation to protect and secure our right to keep and bear arms. If you want real in-depth analysis and exclusive content and wish to support our mission, join BearingArms VIP today and use promo code VIPWEEK to receive 45% off your membership!