Umatilla County voters passed the county’s Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance in November 2018, which prevents the county from using resources to enforce state or federal laws that infringe on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and grants the sheriff the authority to rule on the constitutionality of those laws.

This November, Umatilla County voters will vote on a related measure, the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance.

Here is the summary of Measure 30-145 from the voters pamphlet: “No agency of the Umatilla County Government or employee of the county will knowingly and willingly participate in any way in the enforcement of any law or regulation issued regarding a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition, or utilize any asset or county funds to engage in any activity that aids the state or federal government in the enforcement or any investigation for the enforcement of any law or regulation issued regarding a personal firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition. Failure to comply with the ordinance may subject the county official or employee to liability for injured parties in a lawsuit, including payment of attorney fees.”

This is likely to be found unconstitutional. Oregon Revised Statute 166.170 gives the Oregon Legislature sole authority to regulate firearms. And only the courts can overturn state or federal laws.

This “sanctuary ordinance” is symbolic, and the county’s “preservation ordinance” would not be altered or removed by the passage or failure of the sanctuary ordinance.

Rob Taylor, a gun rights activist from Coos County, who is behind a number of Second Amendment ordinances, has stated that the intent is to challenge “sanctuary city” laws, which limit a municipality’s cooperation with federal government efforts to enforce immigration laws.

The local backers of this ordinance have stated that their motivation is to prevent any new gun control bills that may pass the Oregon Legislature from taking effect. Earlier this year, the Oregon Legislature considered House Bill 4005 requiring firearms to be secured with a trigger or cable lock, and Senate Bill 1538, which would let cities, school districts and colleges ban concealed weapons on their property. Neither has passed into law at this time.

We live in a country that leads the world in gun ownership and gun deaths, where mass shootings are not unusual events, where more than 300 people are shot by a gun each day, and where our citizens are killed by guns 25 times more often than the citizens of other wealthy countries.

We don’t believe that laws requiring universal background checks prior to gun purchases, safe gun storage or “red flag laws” (temporarily preventing a person in crisis from accessing a gun) infringe on the rights outlined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

We recommend a “no” vote on Umatilla County Measure 30-145.

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