Growing defiance over Oregon gun control measure

The number of sheriffs in Oregon vowing not to enforce a new ban on “large capacity” magazines continues to grow, while gun stores are reporting brisk business ahead of Measure 114’s “permit-to-purchase” mandate, which, like the magazine ban, is set to take effect in two months.

Not quite the start that gun control activists were hoping for, and honestly, the defiance to Measure 114 is just getting started. By the time the new gun laws are set take effect, I wouldn’t be surprised if sheriffs in more than half the state are on the record saying they won’t be making any arrests for violations of the new mag ban.

By my count, we’re already up to five of the state’s 36 elected sheriffs making that declaration or something close to it. The first to do so was Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan, and since then we’ve reported on similar reactions from Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen and Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe. Now you can add a couple more names to the list.

Baker County Sheriff Travis Ash said Monday, Nov. 14 that he’s “frustrated” by the passage of Measure 114, the gun control measure, in the Nov. 8 election.

But Ash, unlike some other sheriffs, isn’t vowing to completely ignore enforcement of the new law, which is slated to take effect Jan. 15, 2023, after it passed by a margin of 51% to 49%.

“I have been fielding several questions along with many concerns about the measure,” Ash wrote in a statement his office issued Monday, Nov. 14. “I’m frustrated just like many of you are. I fully expect legal challenges to be filed in our court systems regarding some or all of the components of Measure 114.”

… In reaction to the measure’s restriction on the sales of magazines, Ash wrote: “The Baker County Sheriff’s Office will not focus investigations on magazine capacity issues.”

… Sheriff Jason Pollock of Jefferson County, in Central Oregon, wrote in a Facebook post: “With shrinking law enforcement budgets and increasing restraints on law enforcement, I believe citizens must be able to protect themselves. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will not enforce Measure 114.”

Ash doesn’t come out and say he won’t be charging anyone with violating the new mag ban if it’s allowed to take effect, but he’s made it pretty clear that looking for violations of the law isn’t going to be a priority for his department. Sheriff Pollack, on the other hand, leaves no doubt about enforcement issues in Jefferson County, where 73% of voters opposed Measure 114.

So far though, I’d say Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen has delivered the strongest note of defiance that we’ve heard to date.

Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen wrote on the agency’s Facebook page that Measure 114 “is an infringement on our constitutional rights and will not be enforced by my office!”

“This measure will only harm law abiding gun owners and result in wasted time with additional redundant background checks,” Bowen wrote. “With no funding from the state to provide additional payroll costs this will ultimately sacrifice patrol and deputy presence in our community. Another attempt at defunding our police at its finest. To the people who chime in with me picking and choosing which laws I want to enforce or not enforce! Hear this! When it comes to our constitutional rights I’ll fight to the death to defend them. No matter what crazy law comes out of Salem!”

If Measure 114’s magazine ban isn’t preempted by a federal judge, it’s going to be delicious to watch Portland progressives who usually complain about “overpolicing” bitch instead about cops not arresting people for a victimless and possessory offense.

Honestly, though, I’d much prefer that a judge halts enforcement of all of Measure 114, given the chaos and curtailing of Second Amendment rights that will ensue if it’s allowed to take effect. To that end, the Oregon Hunters Association says that it’s a part of the emerging coalition prepared to challenge the law in court once it’s officially certified.

While there are still more votes to be counted, Measure 114 is currently passing by a margin of about 20,000 votes; a mere 1% difference between the yes and no votes.  Obviously, this is not the outcome we were hoping for but it is not the end of our fight against this measure, it simply moves our fight into a different arena.

OHA, along with the coalition of sportsmen’s groups behind the Sportsmen Opposed To Gun Violence PAC, is continuing to work against the measure and is currently formulating next steps as far as near term solutions, such as litigation, and long term solutions, such as legislation. It will take a few days for those plans to be fully formulated and put in to place.

While it cannot be guaranteed, we are hopeful that any litigation filed will also be granted an injunction against the measure which would keep its regulations from taking effect while the litigation makes its way through the court system. Therefore, we are advising all OHA chapters to continue on with 2023 banquet planning and fundraising options as we have in the past.

We will not be cowed by this measure’s razor-thin passage, on the contrary we will be moving the fight forward by standing with our sportsmen and recreational shooter allies. We want our chapter leadership, as well as our full membership, to know that OHA is committed to fighting this issue.

We’re probably going to see multiple lawsuits filed in Oregon before or around January 15th, when Measure 114 is set to go into effect. In New York, for example, there are more than a half-dozen challenges to the state’s Concealed Carry “Improvement” Act, and there are more than just sportsmen’s groups and recreational shooters who are opposed to Measure 114 in the Emerald State… including a growing number of sheriffs who are pledging to ignore it as much as possible.