Oregon's Measure 114 now appearing in federal court

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Oregon has a history of ballot initiatives. Perhaps the worst has been Measure 114.

Sure, the people of Oregon want that level of gun control, but there’s an issue that was overlooked. Namely, they missed the fact that we don’t decide whether or not people retain their rights via popular vote.


If we make that a thing, how long before small groups get stripped of their other rights?

For supporters of the law, that shouldn’t matter. The people of Oregon spoke and that’s all that should be relevant.

Now, those supporters get to see if a federal court will agree.

A federal trial over Oregon’s voter-approved gun control measure opened Monday in Portland, marking a critical next step for one of the toughest gun control laws in the nation after months of being tied up in the courts.

The trial, which is being held before a judge and not a jury, will determine whether the law violates the U.S. Constitution.

It comes after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment that has upended gun laws across the country, dividing judges and sowing confusion over what firearm restrictions can remain on the books. It changed the test that lower courts had long used for evaluating challenges to firearm restrictions, telling judges that gun laws must be consistent with the “historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

The Oregon measure’s fate is being carefully watched as one of the first new gun restrictions passed since the Supreme Court ruling last June.

The legal battle over in Oregon could well last beyond the trial. Whatever the judge decides, the ruling is likely to be appealed, potentially moving all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Measure 114 includes a number of provisions, including mandatory training and a permit requirement for gun purchases–something that I suspect they’ll have a hard time convincing the Supreme Court is a good thing–as well as the magazine limit.

The defense said they intend to argue that higher-capacity magazines represent a fundamental technology shift from the time of the Founding Fathers, supposedly implying the couldn’t possibly have intended for magazines this size to be permitted.

They’re wrong, of course.

Further, the Bruen decision is pretty clear-cut. It doesn’t allow an exception for things someone said the Founding Fathers couldn’t have anticipated. That’s fair, too, because we extend free speech laws to include the internet–something I’m convinced the Founders didn’t anticipate–and we extend Fourth Amendment protections to personal computers and cell phones.

As such, I suspect it’s just a matter of time before Measure 114 is overturned, at least to some degree, and I suspect the Supreme Court will likely overturn all of it.


It doesn’t matter if the anti-gun citizens of a state outnumber the pro-gun folks. That’s because unbridled, unrestrained democracy isn’t some magical system of government that never intrudes on the rights of the people. That’s why we have restraints built into our system, even if lawmakers want to ignore them quite regularly.

Measure 114’s days are numbered, and that’s good news for Oregon.

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