State judge places hold on gun law in Oregon, state to appeal
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A ruling by a state court judge placed Oregon’s tough new gun law on hold late Tuesday, just hours after a federal court judge allowed the ban on the sale and transfer of high-capacity magazines to take effect this week.
The ruling by Harney County Judge Robert Raschio threw the implementation of Measure 114 into limbo and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a Twitter thread that her office will seek emergency action by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Rosenblum will file an immediate appeal with the state’s high court seeking to “align the result in our state courts with the federal court’s well-reasoned and thoughtful decision,” the statement said. That filing was likely to come this morning.
“It’s been a busy day for Measure 114, Oregon’s new gun safety law, which is supposed to go into effect Thursday. A federal and a state judge both issued rulings today,” Rosenblum’s Twitter thread said. “As of now, the law cannot go into effect on Thursday.”
The lawsuit in Harney County, filed by Gun Owners of America Inc. and the Gun Owners Foundation, sought to have the entire law placed on hold while its constitutionality is decided. The state lawsuit makes the claims under the Oregon Constitution, however, not the U.S. Constitution. That means Raschio’s ruling is binding in the entire state for now.
Earlier Tuesday, a federal judge in Portland delivered an initial victory to proponents of the sweeping gun-control measure approved by Oregon voters. U.S. District Judge Karin Immergut allowed the ban on the sale and transfer of new high-capacity magazines to take effect Thursday while giving law enforcement more time to set up a system for permits that will now be required to buy or transfer a gun.
Immergut granted a 30-day delay before the permit-to-purchase mandate takes effect, but did not quash it entirely as gun rights advocates had wanted.
Measure 114, which narrowly passed in the midterms, requires a permit, criminal background check, fingerprinting and hands-on training course for new firearms buyers and bans the sale, transfer or import of gun magazines over 10 rounds unless they are owned by law enforcement or a military member or were owned before the measure’s passage. Those who already own high-capacity magazines can only possess them in their homes or use them at a firing range, in shooting competitions or for hunting as allowed by state law after the measure takes effect.
Tuesday’s rulings are far from the end of the legal wrangling over the new law; at least four lawsuits have been filed against it. Amid the uncertainty, gun sales spiked in Oregon in the past month.
The Oregon State Police reported more than 35,000 pending background check transactions for gun purchases as of last week and was averaging 3,000 requests a day compared to less than 900 a day the week before Measure 114 passed, according to agency data. On Black Friday, the agency received 6,000 background check requests alone, OSP Capt. Kyle Kennedy said in an email.
Gun store owners also reported a run on guns, with sales in some stores increasing four- or five-fold in recent weeks.
Measure 114’s fate is being carefully watched by both gun rights advocates and those who want stricter limits on gun ownership because it is one of the first to take effect after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a New York law that placed limits on carrying guns outside the home.
The June ruling signaled a shift in the way the nation’s high court will evaluate Second Amendment infringement claims, with the Supreme Court’s conservative majority finding judges should no longer consider whether the law serves public interests like enhancing public safety.
Instead, judges should only weigh whether the law is “consistent with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding.”
Gun-rights supporters have called the June ruling a “wrecking ball” for firearms restrictions.