Oregon Sanctuary County First Test Of Measure

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Here lately, we’ve been talking a lot about sanctuary states, but we need to remember this started much smaller. It started with a single sanctuary county, then exploded. Now, states are following the counties’ initial lead and it’s a great thing to see.


However, we always knew there would be a court challenge to these measures. It was really all just a matter of time before we saw it.

Well, now the waiting is over.

The first court test of whether local governments can ban police from enforcing certain gun laws is playing out in a rural Oregon county, one of a wave of U.S. counties declaring itself a Second Amendment sanctuary.

The measure that voters in the logging area of Columbia County narrowly approved last year forbids local officials from enforcing most federal and state gun laws and could impose thousands of dollars in fines on those who try.

The movement hasn’t yet faced a major legal challenge. The Oregon case was filed by Columbia County under an unusual provision in state law that allows a judge to examine a measure before it goes into effect. No timeline has been set for a court hearing.

“This will allow the court to tell us whether the county can actually decline to enforce certain state laws, and it will tell us how to abide by the will of the voters to the extent that we can,” said Sarah Hanson, who serves as counsel in the conservative-leaning county in deep-blue Oregon.

Supporters of the ordinance include the Oregon Firearms Federation, which said in a November statement that “extremists” and “big city radicals” were trying to curtail gun rights.

The group referenced Portland protests opposing police brutality that occasionally turned violent last summer and called the ordinance a “common sense” step that would “ensure your right and ability to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones.”

The ordinance would ban the enforcement of laws like background check requirements and restrictions on carrying a gun, though it would have exceptions for others, including keeping firearms from convicted felons.


Apparently, four residents filed a lawsuit to challenge the law.

The article notes that some past sanctuary measures didn’t hold up to legal challenge, but this one is different. The referenced Montana law basically said the laws didn’t apply in the state. These measures are saying that the local government won’t enforce those laws. That’s an important difference since it makes it very clear that the laws still apply.

Of course, will the court see that difference? Who knows.

However, what I do know is that if it’s ruled that local authorities have to cooperate on state and federal laws, there are ramifications that may extend well beyond the Second Amendment.

After all, Oregon is an immigration sanctuary. How might a ruling on a sanctuary county impact that effort?

Then again, it looks like this will be in state court, which is likely to pretend that’s completely different. In truth, it probably is, but not in the way they like to think. Best as I can tell, there’s no constitutionally-protected right to enter the country without going through proper procedures.


Still, it should be interesting to watch, if nothing else.

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