PENDLETON — Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan said he will not enforce certain components of Ballot Measure 114, particularly a magazine capacity restriction that would ban sales of magazines holding more than 10 rounds, due to constitutional violations he says are associated with the measure.
“First of all, the above 10 round magazine capacity ban, we will not be enforcing that,” Rowan said. “It’s challenging enough as it is due to the constitutional violations that are associated with that.”
Morrow County Sheriff John Bowles is taking the same stance.
“This portion of Measure 114 will not be an enforcement priority and we will not be knocking on doors to see if law-abiding citizens have a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds,” he said in a statement Wednesday, Nov. 16, on his office’s Facebook page.
Rowan explained the language in Measure 114 makes enforcement impossible, primarily in that it allows for the grandfathering of previously owned magazines of greater than 10-round capacity.
“Written into the measure it talks about if it was purchased prior to the effective date of Measure 114, then that can be used as an affirmative defense in that particular case,” Rowan explained. “In addition to the Second Amendment issues associated with that, it’s the state’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the magazine was purchased post the effective date of the measure. That’s a challenging component there.”
The new gun control measure squeaked by statewide in the Nov. 8 election, 50.8% for to 49.2% against. In rural counties, it failed. Umatilla County voters were against the measure 74.5% to 25.5%, and Morrow County voters turned down the measure 79.7% to 20.3%.
Other rural sheriff’s also have announced they will not enforce Measure 114, including Wallowa County Sheriff Joel Fish and Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen.
Targeting gun rightsThe measure already has a legal challenge.
The Oregon Firearms Federation, Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey and Kiezer gun store owner Adam Johnson are suing in federal court to block Measure 114 from becoming law. Attorney John Kaempf of Portland filed the lawsuit Friday, Nov. 18, on behalf of the plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court in Pendleton.
Kaempf in the lawsuit states OFF represents the interests of values of members in Sherman, Umatilla and Wallowa counties. The lawsuit claims Measure 114 violates several constitutional provisions and seeks a judgment declaring the measure unconstitutional. And if the court won’t grant that, the plaintiffs are asking the court to prohibit any enforcement of the the magazine capacity provision.
The Oregonian reported this is the first court challenge to the measure. It comes less than three weeks before the measure is set to take effect on Dec. 8.
The overshadowing component, Rowan said, is how Measure 114 violates Second Amendment rights. In 2020, Umatilla County voted to preemptively stymie any future gun regulation through the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance, which passed with 57% of the vote. Rowan explained he’s consulted with legal counsel to look into how that will affect Measure 114 implementation.
Bowles in his statement said he did not promote or advocate for the passing of Measure 114.
“I am an advocate for people’s rights, safety, security and livability,” he said, and measure does not aid those goals. Instead, according to the sheriff, the measure works against the goals he advocates because it adds difficulty and expense to legal gun ownership.
Bowles also stated criminals don’t follow the law, so Measure 114 only will affect law-abiding citizens.
“So, what is this measure going to accomplish?” he asked.
Onerous gun permittingPart of Measure 114 creates a mandate for local law enforcement to provide permits to purchase firearms, including requirements for applicants to pay fees, submit photo identification and fingerprints, pass a criminal background check and complete gun safety training. Rowan said what the training may look like is in development.
“We already do the concealed handgun licensing, which kind of mirrors the measure with the exception of the hands-on component. Showing proficiency, loading and unloading, that’s all part of CHL as it is. The exception is the safe handling of a firearm. We’re trying to figure out how to overcome that component.”
Bowles called Measure 114 “another unfunded mandate” and said it would strain local budgets, staffing and resources.
“Having to use current staff to comply with Measure 114 requirements will negatively affect other public services,” he stated. “Yet local law enforcement will be tasked with creating, implementing and staffing the required permitting process.”
Rowan said the passage of the measure places him in a conundrum.
“The last thing that I want to do is stand in the way of someone being able to exercise their Second Amendment right,” he said. “I don’t want to create an environment where we stand in the way of someone exercising that right.”
Gun stores could take the bruntRowan said he has begun reaching out to gun businesses across Umatilla County to answer questions and provide clarity for business owners.
“At the end of the day, they are going to be the ones that are really damaged in this,” he said. “The store I just left said they’d likely go out of business if this holds up because of the significant delay in this permitting process.”
Concerns about a heavy business impact may not be unfounded according to Pendleton local and owner of Garner’s Sporting Goods Rick Hadden. He also expressed concerns about staying in business should Measure 114 become law.
“If you have a gun store and you can’t sell guns, you don’t have a business,” he said. “There is no doubt in any gun store owner’s mind in this state that’s going to happen if something isn’t done. Everything about this measure was so poorly worded and planned that there’s no way to go forward.”
He said Oregon State Police announced the law takes effect Dec. 8.
“At that point, without the permit, for which there are no provisions for training and implementation and no money allocated, we’re dead in the water until something else happens,” he said.
Rowan said that it was a priority for him to provide clarity for local businesses and work through proposed and existing processes with local law enforcement agencies to assist in setting up a permitting process.
Questions remainThe Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association met twice last week about Measure 114, Rowan said.
“We’re all in agreement that there are a lot more questions than there are answers at this point, but we need a way through every component of it,” he said.
Bowles said the Sheriffs’ Association, Oregon Association Chiefs of Police and Oregon State Police will be collaborating to create an efficient permitting process. He also concluded the law may not stand but he will work on its behalf if it supported by courts.
“I can see the possibility of Measure 114 being challenged in court and a stay being granted while it is worked out in our court system,” he stated. “If this measure is enacted into law, I will work diligently to put an efficient permitting process in place.”