PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Testimony against Oregon's Measure 114 carried into day two on Tuesday for the federal trial over the measure's ban on high-capacity magazines and permit-to-purchase provisions. Yet, witnesses for the state also provided compelling evidence, particularly about the increasing incidence of mass casualty events involving firearms capable of holding 10 rounds or more.
Pro-gun advocates sued the state over the ballot measure voters approved last November that both enforces a stricter vetting process for obtaining a firearm and bans high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds. A little over a week after the measure passed with 50.7% of the vote, the Oregon Firearms Federation led the first federal suit against the state's former Governor Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, claiming the new law infringes on their constitutional right to bear arms while violating the Due Process Clause by criminalizing the possession of magazines that were legal when acquired.
Three more federal lawsuits followed, and all four cases have since been consolidated under the purview of U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut.
The law is yet to be enforced because Harney County Judge Robert S. Raschio granted temporary restraining order blocking it in a suit filed in the state court.
Although Immergut had denied Oregon Firearms Federation's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, she also temporarily delayed enforcement of the law, finding the state unprepared to implement its permit-to-purchase program — a factor Raschio had also cited.
On the second day of the consolidated federal trial Tuesday, state attorneys came prepared to undermine what witnesses the plaintiff gun rights advocates had yet to introduce while ushering in a panel of experts that made a strong case for how high-capacity firearms have led to an epidemic of violence over the last 30 years.
Leading attorneys for the defendants included Harry B. Wilson of Markowitz Herbold and Senior Assistant Attorney General Brian Simmonds Marshall, whose witness panel began with research professor Louis Klarevas of Columbia University.
Klarevas, who authored the 2016 book Rampage Nation: Securing America from Mass Shooting, provided a breadth of data concerning mass shootings that occurred between 1990 and 2022, especially those in which fatalities reached double-digit figures due to high-capacity magazines.
According to Klarevas’ research, 94 high fatality mass shootings — those in which six or more people died besides the shooter — have occurred in the U.S. since 1990, and, between 1776 and 2022, the majority of all mass shootings resulting in double-digit fatalities took place after 1998.
Attorneys also directed the court to Klarevas’ research analyzing mass shootings in the U.S. between 1990 and 2017, where high fatalities resulting in four or more deaths besides the shooter doubled in states without a ban on large-capacity magazines, and the annual number of deaths was over three times as high.
Klarevas also added that lower capacity magazines provide a “critical pause” — the moment an active shooter pauses to reload, where shooting victims have a chance to run, hide or fight. The same point was made by the defendants’ witness Michael Siegel — a professor at the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University — whose own analysis also found that limits on large-capacity magazines have significantly reduced the number of mass shootings and casualties.
Oregon Health and Science University surgeon Mackenzie Cook also joined the defendants’ panel on Tuesday, testifying that he regularly oversees patients with gunshot wounds and that, regardless of how the hospital prepares, a mass shooting incident involving more than five to 10 victims would outstrip the hospital’s resources.
Cook pointed out that even those who survive their injuries from gunshots tend to carry lifelong emotional scars, if not debilitating injuries such as paralyzation or intestinal trauma. However, the primary motivation for his pro-bono testimony, he said, is that he’s a father and that the number one cause of death in children in the U.S. is gunshot wounds — a fact that he said makes him sick.
On Wednesday, University of California-Berkeley historian Brian DeLay will continue his testimony on firearm history. On Tuesday, he described repeating firearms as “exceedingly rare,” if not almost non-existent until the last century.Follow @alannamayhampdx
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