Second lawsuit filed against Measure 114 days ahead of enactment

Second lawsuit filed against Measure 114 days ahead of enactment
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Unless the courts step in and grant an injunction blocking Measure 114 from taking effect, in just a little more than a week Oregon residents will be subjected to some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, including a ban on commonly-owned ammunition magazines and a new permit-to-purchase requirement that could derail all gun sales in the state, at least temporarily.

A federal judge will hear oral arguments tomorrow in a challenge to the law brought by the Oregon Firearms Federation and a county sheriff, and on Wednesday a separate lawsuit was filed in federal court by a group of Oregon residents, gun store owners, as well as the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition. Like the OFF suit, the latest litigation concentrates on the magazine ban portion of Measure 114, though additional litigation targeting the purchase-to-permit mandates is likely once the particulars of the permitting process have been established.

Joining SAF in the legal action are G4 Archery, Grayguns, Inc., the Firearms Policy Coalition and a private citizen, Mark Fitz. They are represented by attorney James L. Buchal, Murphy & Buchal LLP in Portland. Named as defendants are Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and State Police Supt. Terri Davie, in their official capacities. A motion for temporary restraining order may be read here.

“As we immediately explain in our lawsuit, the State of Oregon has criminalized one of the most common and important means by which its citizens can exercise their fundamental right of self-defense,” noted SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “By banning the manufacture, importation, possession, use, purchase, sale, or transfer of standard-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds the State has barred law-abiding, peaceable residents from legally acquiring or possessing common ammunition magazines and deprived them of an effective means of self-defense.”

SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb explained, “Maybe the most frustrating thing about the Oregon measure is that officials there are willing to enforce the law’s provisions despite any real prospect this law is going to reduce violent crime. The only people actually impacted are law-abiding citizens who don’t commit crimes, and who will be left more vulnerable to attack because of this new law.”

That’s true, and given the number of sheriffs across the state who’ve declared they have no intention of enforcing the magazine ban, I’d say that those Oregonians who do end up ensnared by the law are largely going to be gun owners in deep-blue Portland, where violent crime is a major concern.

Ahead of tomorrow’s hearing on the OFF’s request for an injunction, however, attorneys for the state of Oregon are arguing that if the law doesn’t take effect on December 8th as scheduled, chaos will ensue.

the gun owners and three sheriffs have argued that magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are commonly used for self-defense, and without them, law-abiding gun owners will be at a tactical disadvantage when confronting criminals.

The attorney general’s office, in its response, argued large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are not “arms” protected by the Second Amendment and the state’s new requirement for a permit to purchase a gun will withstand constitutional scrutiny.

In a 42-page court filing Wednesday, a senior assistant attorney general wrote that any move to put the measure on hold while litigation proceeds would likely result in a rush of people buying “tens of thousands” of more guns and ammunition before the regulations could take hold and endanger public safety.

Before Nov. 8, the state police averaged 849 background check requests a day for new gun purchases. Since then, the daily average has quadrupled to 4,092, the attorney general’s filing says.

The attorney general’s office argues that the current gun owners who have filed a lawsuit challenging the measure won’t be harmed if the measure becomes law.

“Plaintiffs can continue to keep and bear the arms they currently possess, which is enough to protect their Second Amendment rights for the pendency of this litigation,” wrote Brian Simmonds Marshall, a senior assistant attorney general.

It’s Measure 114 itself that has led to the flood of Oregonians pouring into gun stores across the state. While the state’s attorneys may claim that allowing those sales to continue (each one accompanied by a background check, mind you) will increase “the risk of a massacre”, their proposed “solution” is to put in place a permitting system that could result in a complete halt to gun sales in the state. The permit-to-purchase system isn’t in place yet, and would-be gun owners have no idea what the training requirements are going to look like or even where to go to get the training mandated by the state. Those mandates are constitutionally questionable enough, but completely depriving Oregonians, even temporarily, from accessing their right to keep and bear arms should be a non-starter for the courts.

The same is true for Measure 114’s magazine ban, which has no real historical analogue for supporters to point to. While the most common arms at the time the Second Amendment was ratified were single shot muskets and pistols, by the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified the most commonly-owned arms included six-shot revolvers and repeating rifles that could hold more than ten rounds. There were no 19th century moms demanding action against lever-actions or any other kind of firearm, and certainly no longstanding laws limiting gun ownership to the single-shot firearms that were most common just a few generations earlier.

It’s going to be a busy week for attorneys in Oregon, and for gun store owners too. With sales already quadruple what they were before Election Day, don’t be surprised if the numbers spike even higher as we get closer to December 8th and the prospect of an abrupt halt to retail gun sales.