Saturday, February 4, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Strict voter-backed gun measure remains shelved in Oregon

The new gun restrictions, set to take effect Thursday, will remain on hold until state and federal courts determine the constitutionality of the measure.

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Oregon’s new gun restrictions will not take effect as planned Thursday after the state Supreme Court refused to overturn temporary blocks on the voter-approved measure.

Late Wednesday, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters denied Oregon's request to stay the injunction while the cases progress in both state and federal courts.

“Relators’ petition for writ of mandamus is denied. Relators’ motion to stay the circuit court's order dated Dec. 6, 2022, which temporarily restrained defendants and defendants’ agents from enforcing Ballot Measure 114 (2022), as of 12:01 am. on Dec. 8, 2022, is dismissed as moot," Walters wrote for the high court. “This order is issued without prejudice as to the filing of any future petition for a writ of mandamus or other motion in this court by any party in relation to any other rulings in the underlying proceeding.”

The state's emergency motion followed a Tuesday ruling by Judge Robert Raschio in Harney County that barred enforcement of ballot Measure 114, a controversial gun safety law passed in November with 50.7% of the vote. The measure requires residents to obtain a permit from law enforcement to purchase firearms, complete safety training and pass a criminal background check.

Several lawsuits have challenged the new law, including a federal suit led by Oregon Firearms Federation, which sought a temporary injunction against the measure’s strict enforcement regarding high-capacity magazines. U.S. District Judge Karin Immergut denied the injunction Tuesday but allowed a 30-day delay before the law’s permit-to-purchase rules go into effect.

The ruling in Harney County involved a lawsuit lead by Gun Owners of America Inc and the Gun Owners Foundation, which asked the court to block the entire measure while considering its constitutional merits. Judge Raschio granted the groups a temporary restraining order and an order to show cause why preliminary injunction should not enter, putting the law on hold.

“We strongly disagree with the decision of the Harney County Circuit Court,” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in a statement Wednesday. “Our mandamus petition to the Oregon Supreme Court gives our highest state court the opportunity to weigh in now and reverse the Harney County judge’s ruling. Magazine capacity restrictions and permitting requirements have a proven track record: they save lives! We are confident the Oregon Constitution — like the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — allows these reasonable regulations.”

Rosenblum took to Twitter after Walters issued her order and vowed to continue fighting “If you’re wondering about the legal status of Measure 114, the law’s enforcement is (we hope temporarily) on hold by the state courts. There is a hearing in Harney County next week and we will continue to defend the constitutionality of this voter-passed gun safety law.”

The hearing will take place Dec. 13, where Guns Owners of America will be represented by attorney Tyler Smith of Tyler Smith & Associates P.C.

“On behalf of Gun Owners of America and our other clients, we are pleased with the decision and confident that courts will continue to see that Measure 114 is unconstitutional both because its permit to purchase scheme does not even currently exist and gives arbitrary discretion to licensing agents to deny Oregonians their constitutional rights and would prohibit the sale of most modern firearms since most are capable of being converted to hold more than 10 rounds,” Smith wrote in an email. “Our firm and Gun Owners of America will continue to fight to protect this constitutional right.”

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...