Oregon law enforcement has concerns about Measure 114

Oregon law enforcement has concerns about Measure 114
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Oregon seems poised to pass Measure 114, which creates all kinds of gun control throughout the state. There are, of course, serious problems with this measure.

For one thing, it’s a ballot initiative, which means those who crafted it don’t actually know anything about much of anything.

For example, law enforcement in the state has some serious concerns.

Officials in local law enforcement and criminal justice have expressed concern about a ballot measure in November that would toughen restrictions around the sale, style and use of firearms in Oregon.

Measure 114 would require a permit from law enforcement, safety training and a background check before a gun purchase. It would also ban ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds.

Law enforcement leaders worry about the measure’s potential costs, including the staffing capacity needed to process applications.

“That’ll be a challenge for a lot of police departments,” said Clatsop County Sheriff Matt Phillips, who opposes the measure.

He worries that his office would need to add an employee to handle the volume of permit requests. The fees — $65 dollars to apply for a permit, $50 to renew — would not cover the costs, he said.

In addition, “from an equity perspective, it’s a barrier to people with lower incomes from legally possessing a firearm,” Phillips said. “It just adds one more expense.”

Astoria Police Chief Stacy Kelly shared similar concerns about additional strain on departments that would find themselves in charge of processing permit applications.

“I think the intentions were probably good,” Kelly said, “but as with most things there’s the unintended consequences that we have to worry about.”

The issue here is that those who wrote the measure didn’t even try to get an idea of what the costs involved might actually be. They just came up with a number and expect departments to just work with what’s available.

That’s not realistic.

Measure 114 also requires police to provide training, which creates other potential problems.

Kelly also wondered about the police role in the firearm safety courses.

If officers provide the training and sign off on an applicant’s competence, and the new gun owner then goes out and commits an atrocity with the gun, would the police department be liable? Would the city?

“How is that going to work? The city of Astoria getting sued because someone did something really bad with a firearm?” Kelly asked.

Now, departments may not have to teach the class, but they’d have to be involved in them to some degree, even if it’s just to certify them.

That means they could still be sued over what a student did.

The Law of Unintended Consequences bows for no man or woman. It simply is, and Measure 114 is so poorly conceived that it’s likely to lead to more unintended consequences as usual.

Then we have what Sheriff Phillips noted with regard to how the fees may well hurt poorer Oregonians. It’s a nothing fee to the wealthy, but when you’re barely squeaking by, $65 is a whole lot of money, all so you can exercise a basic constitutional right?

Yeah, that doesn’t need to fly at all, and these officers have legitimate concerns Oregon voters should keep in mind going forward.