Gun control laws all around the country are becoming stricter but not necessarily all helpful. Oregon gun control laws are next. What's happening there right now? Read more about it below!
Oregon Gun Control Laws: Is Change Needed?
Two counties in Oregon are fighting back against unconstitutional gun control laws, including the state’s extreme risk protection law, the concealed carry law, and most other state regulation of guns.
They seek to make it a misdemeanor crime for police to enforce the laws.
Columbia County, in the Northwest, and Umatilla County, in Eastern Oregon, both approved ordinances directing county workers, including police, to ignore laws that tread on residents’ Second Amendment rights.
If officers and deputies choose to uphold the laws, they can face prosecution and fines.
Gun rights activists in the state are lobbying for the “gun sanctuary” ordinances on behalf of all Oregonians.
“All we were doing was trying to get rid of all of the regulations that we believe are designed to eliminate gun ownership,” Rob Taylor, an Oregon gun rights activist, said.
Despite the symbolic gesture of the ordinances, it remains to be seen if they will stand up in court.
Oregon police would be asked to ignore laws that they’ve sworn to uphold.
The laws also undermine Oregon’s authority to regulate guns at the state level.
Are Gun Laws Illegal?
Chris Brumbles, an activist who helped get the measure on the ballot in Columbia County, said any gun law, state or federal, is illegal.
Brumbles said he was able to collect the required number of signatures to put the gun sanctuary measure on the local ballot in just a month and a half.
He said voters “have the absolute right” to tell public employees and government leaders “what they can and can’t spend money on,” and that absolutely applies to gun regulation.
“We don’t elect kings,” he said. “They definitely work for us.”
If Ordinances Hold Up, They Create Confusion
Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of gun control advocacy group Ceasefire Oregon, said the measures will only send conflicting messages to public employees about which laws to follow and which to ignore.
“It just leaves a huge mess as to what county employers are supposed to be doing,” she said.
A wave of “Second Amendment preservation” ordinances has emerged in Oregon and across the nation.
In Oregon, these ordinances make it illegal to enforce laws passed since 2012 that are unconstitutional but leave it to the sheriff to make that determination.
Under the new ordinances, if a deputy or police officer enforces most gun laws, they would face prosecution for a misdemeanor and possible fines of up to $2,000.
The agency that employs them also would face up to $4,000 in fines.
“What seems to be particularly problematic about these two (ordinances) is threatening to fine local officials who enforce state law, because these state laws have been lawfully passed in Oregon and local officials swear to uphold the laws of the state of Oregon, of the local jurisdiction and the constitutions of Oregon and the United States,” Shawn Fields, a professor at Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh, North Carolina, said.
Not All of Oregon is On Board
While the measures may have passed in Umatilla and Columbia counties, they failed in Clatsop and Coos counties.
Elsewhere in the state, the measures didn’t even reach the ballots.
County clerks in Douglas, Curry, and Josephine counties rejected the measures because they failed to meet the criteria for initiatives.
Two years ago, a Circuit Court judge ruled a gun sanctuary measure headed to the ballot in Grant County was illegal.
Last year, a judge in neighboring Harney County reached a similar conclusion, based on the fact that Sheriffs' employees are certified by the state, and failing to enforce state law would violate the terms of their employment.
Deputies could also find themselves pitted against each other, depending on an individual’s interpretation of the ordinance.
What Gun Rights Advocates Are Fighting For
While supporters of the ordinances say that police can still enforce the felon-in-possession-of-a-firearm law, there are certain Oregon laws that are unconstitutional and should no longer be enforced by police. These include:
- Regulations that restrict a gun’s barrel length, magazine size, or accessories that limit noise, also known as suppressors.
- The state requirement to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun.
- Oregon’s “red flag” law that allows police, family members, or roommates to petition a judge for an “extreme risk protection order” barring gun possession. If the order is granted, the person named has 24 hours to turn over all guns to law enforcement, a qualified third party or gun dealer.
Gun rights activists are adamant that their right to bear arms includes access to accessories, the right to carry concealed or open at will, and the right to due process before confiscation of private property.
Time will tell if their state agrees with them.
What do you think about the Oregon gun control laws? Do you think they are fair or illegal? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section!