Opponents prep lawsuit over Oregon gun control measures

Opponents prep lawsuit over Oregon gun control measures
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Measure 114, the sweeping ballot initiative that will impose a ban on “large capacity” magazines and establish a “permit-to-purchase” system that includes mandatory training, a waiting period, extensive background investigations, and a database of all prospective gun owners, is likely to be officially certified on December 15th, which will start the clock on the 30-day window before the new measures officially take effect.

Already, however, we’re seeing signs that might not be enough time for backers of Measure 114 to draft all of the associated policies and technical language needed to enforce the provisions within the anti-gun laws… and opponents are gearing up for a lawsuit as well. In fact, the speculation in Oregon now isn’t whether Measure 114 will pass, but whether it will ever actually be enforced.

We’re very humbled by this, but it wasn’t a victory over anybody. It was a victory for our children that we can all celebrate,” said one of the chief petitioners, the Rev. Mark Knutson from Portland’s Augustana Lutheran Church.

Lawyers advising the Oregon Firearms Federation, the Second Amendment Foundation and other gun rights advocates disagree.

They’re preparing to ask a judge for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the measure from taking effect until a judge can weigh whether it meets constitutional muster.

“The first draft of our complaint has been written. We’re still adding plaintiffs to the suit, and we’ll be ready to pounce,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue..

While the passage of Measure 114 shows the strength of the gun safety movement right now, it’s too early to tell whether the law will survive constitutional scrutiny in the wake of the major U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late June overturning a New York gun safety law, said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA School of Law.

“There’s no doubt the U.S. Supreme Court has declared war on gun safety legislation,” Winkler said. “We don’t know which exact laws will be upheld.”

He suspects part of Measure 114 may withstand review, such as the move to require completed background checks before a gun sale, but others may not, such as the ban of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

“It’s going to be awhile,” Winkler said, “before this law goes into effect, if it ever does.”

If the passage of Measure 114 shows the current strength of the gun control movement, then it’s not particularly strong. Measure 114 will likely receive the approval of about 52% of voters this cycle; far below the 80-90% support that gun control advocates claim to have for their infringements on the Second Amendment rights of the people. And as Oregonians get a first-hand look at how the new laws will be implemented, I suspect that support is going to decline even further.

Gun rights advocates contend the measure will halt gun sales as of Jan. 15 because no one will have a permit to buy one.

Proponents of the measure said that’s not true.

“Sales will not halt because permits cannot be required until (Oregon State Police) develops the rules and finalizes the standardized form to apply,’’ said Anthony Johnson, a spokesman for the Measure 114 campaign.

Salem-based attorney Leonard Williamson, who has been a licensed firearms dealer for 20 years and helps advise gun rights groups, remains skeptical.

“They may believe that, but there’s no place in Measure 114 that says that ‘until state police creates rules, that sales can continue,’ ” he said. “I’m not going to take a chance and violate the law because I don’t want ATF or state police at my door.”

Yeah, I don’t think I’d trust the analysis of LEVO here, especially since they have every reason to put a positive spin on the inherently flawed ballot measure. They promised Oregon voters that Measure 114 would be incredibly effective at increasing public safety, after all, and instead their measure seems to be causing chaos… not to mention increased sales at gun shops around the state; unsurprising given the fact that Measure 114 is aimed at restricting the rights of responsible gun owners, not violent criminals.

People who already own larger-capacity magazines have 180 days from Jan. 15 to sell them to a licensed gun dealer or to someone out of state or to destroy them.

After the 180 days, gun dealers can sell or transfer only newly manufactured high-capacity magazines marked with a special stamp denoting they’re for military or law enforcement use — two exceptions under the law.

One other exception: People who already own the magazines can keep them in a private home, use them at a shooting range or in a shooting competition, or for hunting when state hunting laws allow.

A check of gun shops around Portland on Friday showed they were doing brisk business selling rifles and guns.

Several workers said they don’t know what they’re going to do with the high-capacity magazines now in their inventory. They doubted any large-capacity magazine owners would destroy them until any legal challenges are heard.

Honestly, I doubt many will be destroyed even if the courts uphold the magazine ban (which is itself a dubious prospect at best). Then there’s the fact that at least three rural sheriffs have said they won’t enforce the magazine ban if it’s not blocked by a lawsuit, which will spur more gun owners to keep ahold of their magazines. My guess is that the state of Oregon is going to have a lot more “large capacity” magazines on January 15th than it would have if Measure 114 had failed, with a flood of gun owners running out to purchase as many of the soon-to-be-banned magazines before the law takes effect.

It’s going to be an interesting and eventful couple of months in Oregon as gun control advocates race to fill in the details of the new anti-2A measures and gun owners prep for both a court fight and legislative action. The voting on Measure 114 may be over, but the effort to keep its unconstitutional infringements from impacting Oregonians is just getting started.