Oregon sheriffs association issues stark warning on Measure 114

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

As we reported on Thursday, gun sales are red-hot in the blue state of Oregon since Election Day. The narrow approval of Measure 114, which will institute a “permit-to-purchase” system as well as a ban on “large capacity” magazines, has prompted a run on firearms that has gun shops even busier than the height of the Great Gun Run of 2020. According to the Oregon State Police, there’s been a nearly 400% increase in background checks on firearm transfers over the past week and a half, with more than 4,000 checks submitted every day.

Gun owners (and those who’d like to become one) are rushing to gun stores now because of fears that sales could soon come to a halt. The Oregon State Sheriffs Association released a statement on Thursday warning that as early as December 8th gun stores could be blocked from making any new sales, and would-be gun owners will be left with little recourse if they want to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.

According to the sheriff’s association, December 8th is the day that will live in infamy in the annals of Oregon history. That’s when the passage of Measure 114 is slated to be certified, and based on the OSSA’s reading of the ballot measure language, that’s when a permit-to-purchase will be required, despite the fact that no such permit yet exists.

There are many unanswered questions about the measure that will have to be determined by the courts and other State Elected Officials/agencies. Below is what we know so far.
*The measure will take effect on December 8th, 2022.
*As of the date the measure goes into effect we believe that all firearms sales by dealers, at gun shows and most private transfers (other than to a close relative) in Oregon will immediately stop.
*Firearms purchases (that have not been completed prior to December 8, 2022) will most likely not be completed at all until the purchaser obtains a permit-to-purchase because the Oregon State Police will stop processing the required background checks if there is no permit.
*In order to get a permit, a person must pay a $65 fee and meet several requirements, including having proof of completion of any law enforcement firearms training course or class that is offered for security guards, investigators, reserve or other law enforcement officers, or from a trainer certified by a law enforcement agency.
*Every Sheriff’s Office and local police department must set up a system to issue these permits. The revenue generated by the permits ($65 for each permit) will not come close to fully funding the required processes. In most law enforcement agencies there is no personnel or money to fund this required program. This will result in other public safety resources being reduced to cover the costs of implementing a new permit program.
The OSSA says that it supports a legal challenge to Measure 114, but is well aware that a judge may not decide to grant an injunction halting enforcement of the new law while a lawsuit is ongoing. To that end, the sheriffs say they’ll be working with the state police and the state association of police chiefs to “implement a permit system as soon as possible.”
A number of sheriffs throughout the state have said they have no intentions of enforcing Measure 114, or at least the portion that largely bans the possession of ammunition magazines with a capacity greater than ten rounds. The sheriff’s association, on the other hand, said in its statement that “until such time as all or part of the measure is stayed or found unconstitutional by a court, the measure is the law in Oregon.”
While the OSSA isn’t issuing a formal call for its members to tread lightly or use their own discretion in enforcing the pending magazine ban, a growing number of county sheriffs are adopting that stance, including Yamhill County Sheriff Tim Svenson, who issued a statement on Thursday outlining how his office plans to handle enforcement of Measure 114.

The question has been raised, “Are you going to enforce BM 114?” Like many of my fellow Sheriff’s around the state, I will not make enforcing the 10 round capacity a priority for my Office; enforcement will be at the discretion of the deputy depending on the other factors and circumstances of the encounter. Staffing levels and funding require me to prioritize the responsibilities and obligations of my patrol division, and this will not be one of the priorities.

I have always said that I believe we need to keep weapons out of the hands of bad people. Unfortunately, bad people don’t follow the laws. Like many other recent gun control laws in Oregon, in my opinion this will have no impact on people’s safety and only restricts law-abiding citizens’ ability to possess a weapon for their own defense.

If the law is allowed to stay on the books as written, my Office will do everything we can to streamline the permitting process for citizens who reside in the rural parts of Yamhill County or the cities we serve with policing services contracts so that there is limited delay in purchasing a weapon and we will not prioritize enforcement of the 10 round magazine capacity.

It’s going to be an interesting next few weeks, to say the least. Democratic lawmakers will be scrambling to get the permit-to-purchase requirements written, attorneys on both sides are going to be prepping their legal filings, and Oregon residents are going to continue to head to gun stores in record numbers in order to make their purchase before the permit mandate potentially takes effect.
For violent criminals, however, nothing has really changed. They’re not generally getting their guns through legal means anyway, so the new permit requirement won’t impact them. And given that the magazine ban carries a misdemeanor penalty, it’s not likely to persuade armed robbers, carjackers, home invaders, muggers, gang members, drug dealers, and other bad actors to switch to a 10-round magazine when they’re committing their felony-level offenses. Measure 114 will indeed have a profound impact on Oregon, but it will be the law-abiding and peaceable gun owners in the state who’ll feel its effects if it’s allowed to be enforced.