Oregon Supreme Court declines to intervene in Measure 114 ruling

The Oregon Supreme Court declined to intervene and block a Harney County judge’s order that temporarily stops a voter-approved firearms measure from going into effect today.

The state Supreme Court’s order will keep Measure 114 from taking effect today as litigation around the measure proceeds in court. Without the Harney County judicial order and Supreme Court’s decision, the measure would have banned the sale of high-capacity firearms magazines with more than 10 rounds starting today. It would also have and put a permit system in place for firearm purchases that requires buyers to undergo a training course with a law- enforcement-certified instructor.

The one-page decision, signed by Chief Justice Martha Walters, came late Wednesday in response to a request from the Oregon Department of Justice to overrule the Harney County decision. The state Supreme Court’s denial doesn’t give any insights as to the legal reasoning behind the decision.

It’s the latest in a series of quickly-moving legal activities and decisions around Measure 114 in the past week as its implementation date approached. he measure will not go into effect today, but lawsuits – and a potential resolution – will continue in the future.

“If you’re wondering about the legal status of Measure 114, the law’s enforcement is (we hope temporarily) on hold by the state courts,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a tweet on Thursday. “There is a hearing in Harney County next week and we will continue to defend the constitutionality of this voter-passed gun safety law.”

The measure, approved by voters in November, has drawn widespread opposition from firearms owners and dealers, as well as law enforcement agencies who said they could not meet all the requirements of the new permit system by today’s deadline.

The measure has already drawn several lawsuits from firearms advocacy groups, owners, firearms dealers and others. 

In the Harney County complaint filed last week, the plaintiffs include Gun Owners of America, based in Virginia, and a related organization, the Gun Owners Foundation, along with Joseph Arnold and Cliff Asmussen, two Harney County firearms owners. Gun Owners of America says on its website it has more than 2 million members and lobbies for firearms owners to exercise the “right to keep and bear arms without compromise.”

In a separate federal lawsuit challenging the measure, the Oregon Department of Justice asked a judge to delay the implementation of the permitting system, but allow other parts, like the ban on high-capacity magazine sales, to continue. That’s because law enforcement agencies have said they won’t have a permit system in place that meets all the new law’s requirements by today’s deadline. 

U.S. District Court Judge Karin Immergut granted the state justice department’s request this week, allowing the ban on high-capacity magazine sales but delaying the permit requirement for 30 days. The Oregon Firearms Federation is the lead plaintiff in the federal case, along with firearms dealers and others.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter. Click I want to subscribe!

Ben Botkin - Oregon Capital Chronicle

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. He has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report. Botkin has won multiple journalism awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.