SALEM — Firearms shops are enjoying brisk sales following the narrow approval by voters of Measure 114, which will restrict sales of some magazines and require safety training.
One example: At Tick Licker Firearms in Salem, customers lined up in front of counters Nov. 18 to inspect firearms and pepper the clerks with questions about the measure and what comes next. Sales also are soaring ahead of the measure’s implementation as people place requests for background checks. They worry that they will not be able to purchase guns in the future due to the requirements of the measure.
“It’s a de facto gun ban,” said Brian Clark, 50, of Salem, a customer who said he’s worried the measure will erode Second Amendment rights.
It’s a scene playing out across the state. The Oregon State Police reported an uptick in requests through the agency’s Firearms Instant Check System unit that processes background checks for firearm purchases.
Measure 114 will end a loophole in federal law that allows firearm dealers to sell guns without a background check if it’s not completed within three business days. It also will require anyone who buys a gun in Oregon to pass firearm safety training and ban the sale of bullet magazines that hold over 10 rounds.
Though the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office said the measure goes into effect on Dec. 8, many questions need to be resolved to put the law in place.
State officials — and possibly lawmakers — will need to adopt rules detailing how it will work, such as determining the training curriculum and who conducts it. Oregon State Police will start drafting regulations, and lawmakers could follow up with legislation in the 2023 session as well.
In a statement, OSP said it’s working closely with the Department of Justice, the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police to determine what’s required to implement the law.
Firearms request soar to almost 4,100With Dec. 8 looming, there’s a rush of firearms purchases and uncertainty about what’s ahead.
“This unit has been working through these extreme firearms request volumes and will continue to process them as quickly as possible,” the Oregon State Police said in a statement.
So far in November, about 63% of the requests sent to the Oregon State Police firearms instant check system have been approved. The daily average for background check requests has soared from 849 before the election to 4,092 after the election, state police data shows.
At Ticker Licker Firearms, which has stores in Salem and Corvallis, the general manager said the measure could put the dealer out of business if people cannot get permits when Measure 114 goes into effect.
“Unfortunately, the way that it reads, we won’t be able to essentially transfer a firearm until the systems are going to be in place,” said Austin Cock, general manager of both stories. “We will potentially have to close due to it if we’re not selling guns.”
Cock said storefront sales make up 95% of its business, which means a halt of sales would deeply cut into its bottom line. He said the measure may look “good on paper,” but without regulations in place to allow permits, firearms dealers will be harmed if they cannot sell their products.
Dealers report a “huge influx” of firearm sales in recent days amid the uncertainty about the permit system and gun sales after Dec 8. “That scares people,” Cock said. “It actually is a very scary thing.”
At the Salem store, nearly 500 forms for background checks for firearm purchases were filed with state police in the week and a half since the election, Cock said. In comparison, about 500 a month is the norm, he said.
The measure also has sparked questions and scrutiny from sheriffs, several who have said they won’t enforce the new law — or won’t go out of their way to look for violators.
Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan said in a statement on Facebook that her office will not enforce magazine capacity limits, calling it a “terrible law for gun owners, crime victims, and public safety.”
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson has said enforcement won’t be a priority, The Bulletin in Bend reported. Baker County Sheriff Travis Ash has said he’s “frustrated” by the measure, though will follow it, the Baker City Herald reported.
In a statement on Wednesday, Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers said his office plans on enforcing the law “if it is ruled constitutional by any court challenge.”
“While I may not agree with Measure 114 and was openly against it prior to the election, I have sworn to an oath to uphold the laws of this state, regardless of my opinion,” Landers said in a statement. “Does this mean we will be going door to door asking if you know about this law, if you have high-capacity magazines, etc.? No, we will not be doing this; just like we do not go around asking if you have a fully automatic firearm (which is currently illegal unless you have a permit). However, if we learn you have violated the law we may take action, just like we are responsible for doing for any other crime.”
Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast also released a statement this week saying his office is working to learn more from the county’s legal counsel and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association about the requirements. Kast is keeping an eye out for lawsuits that could impact the measure.
“As with any new bill or legislation, we’ll be diligent in our efforts to understand the requirements, develop processes and procedures to comply with mandated provisions, and vigilantly monitor any potential litigation to ensure we are abiding by current case law,” Kast said in a statement.
He said he anticipates “significant strain” on his office’s limited staffing and resources due to the measure.
“Moving forward, we will prioritize our services towards the areas of greatest need to best serve the residents and visitors within Marion County, therefore will not be focusing investigations on magazine capacity issues,” Kast said. “Over the next several weeks we will share additional information as it becomes available, we appreciate your continued patience.”