Oregon sheriffs won’t enforce new gun law: ‘Infringes on Second Amendment’

County sheriffs in Oregon are taking a stand against the state’s newly-adopted gun law and say they will not enforce a major piece of the law that sets limits on magazine capacity because it violates the Second Amendment, wastes law enforcement resources and is the product of “pure anti-gun politics.”

Measure 114, known as the Reduction of Gun Violence Act, was approved by Oregon voters in last week’s midterm election. The new law outlaws ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, and requires police to maintain an electronic, searchable database of all firearm permits, provide additional hands-on firearm training, and collect fingerprints from people before issuing permits to purchase a gun.

However, at least five county sheriffs say they will not enforce all or parts of the law, and they are focusing their opposition on language that limits magazine capacity. They argue that the provision infringes on Second Amendment rights, ignores real problems associated with gun violence in the state and will drain already-depleted law enforcement resources.

“The biggest thing is this does absolutely nothing to address the problem,” Sheriff Cody Bowen of Union County told Fox News Digital. “The problem that we have is not… magazine capacity. It’s not background checks. It’s a problem with mental health awareness. It’s a problem with behavior health illness.”

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Young woman shooting a rifle with a high-capacity magazine at a shooting range.
(Ryan Houston via Getty Images)

“Our society as a whole is a bigger problem rather than saying that, you know, the guns are killing people,” he said.

Bowen said enforcement of magazine capacity limits is simply not impossible. “There’s just no way possible for us to enforce that and nor would I simply because it’s an infringement on our Second Amendment, you know, our right to keep and bear arms,” he said.

When asked to respond to proponents of the measure who claimed it would curb gun violence in the state, Bowen said that is “100% inaccurate.”

“If you believe that this measure is going to cut the school shootings down, or cut the gun violence down, you’re sadly mistaken,” he said. “But what has proven [to work] time and time again is… supporting your law enforcement, responsible gun ownership, teaching our children at a younger age respect for human life. That’s what we need to fall back on,” Bowen stated.

Oregon already requires a background check on gun sales, but Measure 114 would duplicate the process, according to the Oregon State Sheriffs Association. It would also require local police departments to create and fund programs to issue permits.

Measure 114 is likely to be challenged in court in light of the Supreme Court recently ordering the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to revisit its ruling upholding a similar magazine ban in California.
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Bowen added that neither he nor his colleagues were consulted on the measure, nor was funding made available to meet the staffing needs enforcement of the law would require.

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Sheriff Michelle Duncan, of Linn County, shared a similar message in a Nov. 9 Facebook post, “I want to send a clear message to Linn County residents that the Linn County Sheriff’s Office is NOT going to be enforcing magazine capacity limits.”

“This measure is poorly written and there is still a lot that needs to be sorted out regarding the permitting process, who has to do the training and what exactly does the training have to cover,” Duncan said. She said she wants to “ensure anything we do or don’t do will not hinder gunowners’ rights to purchase firearms, intentionally or unintentionally,” and hopes the measure is met with an “immediate lawsuit.”

Sheriffs Brian Wolfe, of Malheur County, said the enforcement of the new law, which will go into effect next year, is “not going to be a priority, or really even much of a consideration” for his department.

Sheriff Michelle Duncan of Linn County wrote, “I want to send a clear message to Linn County residents that the Linn County Sheriff’s Office is NOT going to be enforcing magazine capacity limits.”
(Fox News Digital)

Wolfe explained that a good amount of his department’s resources are focused on the uptick in drug-related crimes due to the decriminalization of “hard drugs” like methamphetamine and heroin.

“It would take away from the things that we’re doing every day to try to keep people safe,” Wolf said. “Restricting people from ownership of guns in my opinion, is not going to help anything. We’re going to make it harder for people to purchase guns for self-defense.”

Only six out of Oregon’s 36 counties voted to pass Measure 114. In Malheur County, the majority voted against the measure in a ratio nearly 6 to 1.

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Jefferson County Sheriff Jason Pollock echoed those sentiments in a Sunday letter to Jefferson County residents, saying the measure is “pure anti-gun politics.”

As of Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2022, citizens in 29 Oregon counties have voted against Measure 114. A new rule in the state allows ballots postmarked on Election Day to be counted, even if they do not reach elections officials for several days.

“Oregon faces a crisis in its criminal justice system because the leftists elements in Salem have refused to hold criminal[s] accountable for their behavior,” Pollock wrote. “Banning large capacity magazines will only turn law-abiding citizens into criminals. Assuming that restricting magazines to 10 rounds will make you safe is one of the most ignorant statements ever made.”

“The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will not enforce Measure 114,” Pollock added.

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The Sherman County Sheriff’s Office also will not enforce the measure, a spokesman for the department told the Willamette Week.

The measure is likely to be met with swift litigation in light of the Supreme Court recently ordering the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to revisit its ruling upholding a similar magazine ban in California.

“Unfortunately, that will cost Oregon time, money, and it’s going to impact Oregon citizens, law-abiding citizens,” Oregon State Shooting Association President Kerry Spurgin previously told Fox News Digital.

Already bill is expected to cost local governments $49 million annually, though permit fees would bring in up to $19.5 million a year based on an estimated 300,000 annual applications, according to the state sheriffs’ association.