Sheriff joins lawsuit claiming new Oregon gun law is unconstitutional

The Oregonian

With Oregon’s new gun law poised to go into effect next month, one court challenge has already been filed, arguing the ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition is unconstitutional.

The Oregon Firearms Federation late Friday filed a federal suit against Gov. Kate Brown and the state’s attorney general, urging a judge to bar the recent voter-approved gun control Measure 114 from taking effect next month.

The federation was joined by the Sherman County sheriff and a Marion County gun store owner. The lawsuit contends the ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds violates their Second Amendment right to bear arms and right to due process.

Measure 114, passed narrowly by Oregon voters, goes into effect Dec. 8 with some of the nation’s strictest gun limits.

Attorneys advising the Oregon Firearms Federation, the Second Amendment Foundation and other gun rights advocates had said they planned to ask a judge for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the measure from taking effect until a judge can weigh if it meets constitutional muster.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pendleton, is the first court challenge to the measure, which requires a new permit system for gun purchases as well as the ban on some high capacity magazines.

Joining the firearms federation in the lawsuit are Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey, one of at least three sheriffs who have said they won’t enforce the new magazine ban, and Adam Johnson, who owns Coat of Arms Custom Firearms in Keizer.

The plaintiffs seek a court-ordered injunction that would bar the measure from becoming law and a court ruling that Measure 114 is unconstitutional. If a judge isn’t inclined to prevent the entire measure from taking effect, the plaintiffs ask that the court in the alternative at least bar the restriction on gun magazine capacity.

The suit contends that the magazines holding more than 10 rounds are protected under the Second Amendment.

The legal landscape has changed significantly since supporters first drafted Measure 114. Court challenges to one of its provisions, a ban on large-capacity magazines, are pending in neighboring California and Washington states.

The outcomes in those cases could provide guidance to Oregon as the state drafts rules to put Measure 114 into practice, legal observers say.

While the passage of Measure 114 shows the strength of the gun safety movement right now, it’s too early to tell if the law will survive constitutional scrutiny in the wake of the major U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late June overturning a New York gun safety law, said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA School of Law.

“There’s no doubt the U.S. Supreme Court has declared war on gun safety legislation,” Winkler said. “We don’t know which exact laws will be upheld.”

He suspects part of Measure 114 may withstand review, such as the move to require completed background checks before a gun sale, but others may not, such as the ban of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

“It’s going to be awhile,” Winkler said, “before this law goes into effect, if it ever does.”

Meantime, at least three Oregon sheriffs have promised not to enforce Measure 114. Linn County Sheriff Michelle said she would not enforce the ban on large-capacity magazines, while gun rights advocates are gearing up to block the measure, arguing it violates their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey and Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen made similar promises.

Jefferson County sheriff Jason Pollock told The Bulletin in Bend violations would not be a priority for his office.

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