2 Oregon Counties Adopt ‘2A Sanctuary’ Measures; Will They Stand?

The Oregon Firearms Federation published a statement supporting a measure in Columbia County establishing what is generically called a "Second Amendment Sanctuary." The measure passed but will it stand? iStock-884203732
The Oregon Firearms Federation published a statement supporting a measure in Columbia County establishing what is generically called a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” The measure passed but will it stand? iStock-884203732

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- A new political gun battle is shaping up in two Oregon counties after they adopted ballot measures earlier this month that prohibit enforcement of gun laws, another signal that Second Amendment activism is alive in the Pacific Northwest.

According to KGW News, four counties had similar ballot measures up for approval Nov. 3, and two of them were adopted, in Columbia County northwest of ultra-liberal Portland along the south banks of the Columbia River, and in Umatilla County in far more conservative Northeast Oregon. Unofficial election results show Columbia County voters barely approved their measure 50.78 percent to 49.22 percent, while voters in Umatilla County were more decidedly in favor with a 62 percent majority.

Voters in Clatsop and Coos counties rejected their “Second Amendment sanctuary ordinance (SASO)” ballot measures.

Civil unrest and rioting over the past several months in Portland may have had a significant impact on the measures. The Oregon Firearms Federation ran a statement in the Columbia County voter’s pamphlet that said in part:

“Year after year, politicians in Salem and extremists in Portland work overtime to enact new laws and rules to restrict your 2nd Amendment rights or make self-defense firearms useless, if available at all.

“Measure 5-278 protects Columbia County residents from the ever-expanding reach of big city radicals who are promoting violence and supporting unchecked criminal behavior while demanding that you be helpless when your town or home is targeted.

“This year send a message to the militants that their out-of-state money can’t buy your silence or intimidate you.

“Measure 5-278 is a simple, common-sense measure to guarantee that you and your family do not become the latest victims of the senseless violence Oregon’s elected officials are promoting.”

The message evidently hit a nerve. There was no similar statement in the Umatilla County voter’s guide.

But there may be a problem and it is the Beaver State’s gun law preemption statute. According to KGW, “Experts say that the SASO ordinances may conflict with a state statute, ORS 166.170, which explicitly gives the Oregon Legislature authority to regulate firearms in the state. It also voids any “county, city or other municipal” ordinance that seeks to regulate or restrict firearms and ammunition.”

The station said both gun rights ordinances “may also conflict with the U.S. Constitution Supremacy Clause, which says county and state laws cannot supersede federal law.”

Proponents argue that’s not the case at all, because they only address the enforcement of firearms laws, not the actual statutes. Still, opponents predict there will be lawsuits, and when the East Oregonian newspaper based in Pendleton recommended a “No” vote on the measure, it argued, “This is likely to be found unconstitutional.”

The same editorial argued, “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.”—East Oregonian, Pendleton, Oct. 6, 2020

No citizen is killed “by a gun,” and no people are “shot by a gun.” They are shot, and killed, by people using guns to be sure, but this appears to have been yet another example of a news agency transferring guilt from the perpetrator of a crime to the instrument used in the crime. In the case of Umatilla County, where Pendleton is located, this may have been another situation where the local press is out of touch with the sentiments of its readers because they lined up pretty strongly in support of Measure 30-145.

It appears gun ownership is becoming serious business, across the state and especially Columbia County, according to data reported by KGW. State firearms checks increased 49 percent between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, over the same period in 2019. In Columbia County, background checks spiked a stunning 88 percent, which appears to have set off alarms at Ceasefire Oregon, a gun prohibition lobbying group. They reportedly worry that the sanctuary ordinance could result in more firearms-related death and crimes involving guns. But that is a perennial argument put forth by anti-gunners when they are battling any pro-rights regulation.

There is no small amount of irony in the adoption of these sanctuary measures. According to the Portland Oregonian, “Legal experts…say the resolutions are on shaky ground because they require police to ignore laws they’ve taken an oath to uphold. The measures also appear to undermine the state’s legal authority to regulate guns. Under Oregon law, the power to regulate almost all aspects of firearms rests with the Legislature.”

But the same logic seems to elude the political left when it comes to adopting so-called “sanctuary” measures that prohibit local police from checking the legal status of people they encounter during criminal investigations. The difference is that a “2A Sanctuary” measure is supposed to protect a constitutionally enumerated fundamental right, while the “sanctuary” restrictions on police arguably prevent them from determining whether someone is in this country illegally.

Like neighboring Washington, Oregon has become a hotbed of anti-gun politics with Democrats controlling the legislature in Salem and a far-left governor apparently willing to sign any gun control measure that hits her desk.

Whether these local ordinances stand or fall, they serve as a signal that at the grassroots level, gun owners are fed up with gun control laws that promise but don’t deliver and invariably affect the wrong people. They are reminding anyone willing to pay attention that “We’ve tried your way and it didn’t work. We’ve been demonized and penalized for crimes we didn’t commit. It’s time to try a different way, and in the meantime, leave us alone.”

About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

“The same editorial argued, “We live in a country that leads the world in gun ownership and gun deaths, where mass shootings are not unusual events…”

Once again those tired old lies: the US certainly “leads the world in gun ownership” but not even in the top 10 for “gun deaths”. And, “mass shootings”? Fewer than one a year.



They also said 300 deaths per day. That’s about 110,000 per year. Homicides are actually about 30 per day, of which a significant fraction are justified. Majority of the rest are criminals killing each other. So less than five innocents – compared some 1500 daily events where guns are used for defense against a deadly threat.


It would accomplish more if the East Oreganion would promote firearm training. After my firearms are housebroken, they are next trained to obey. When I tell them, “Stay,” they don’t move. When I order them to not shoot anyone, they obey unconditionally.

With proper training, firearms will behave. I only wish I was as successful at training my children and politicians.


that DOES work with children. Its the big “children” we all politivians on which it fails. Perhaps THEY ought to be subject to strict regulations……


There should be no need for 2A sanctuaries: Article VI gives States powers of reasonable legislation, but at no point does Article VI give States permission to legislate ANY constitutional rights whether it be Articles or Amendments within the Bill of Rights. Article VI implies reasonable laws/treatises/etc. adhere to the foundation of Article VI which is good standing with articles and amendments. There is no implied or stated exceptions period! The Democrats can attempt to dismantle the US Constitution but their legislation is moot: our leadership is corrupt and they unlawfully weild too much power. Article VI is Supreme Law:… Read more »


I think the reason Coos County didn’t vote yes on this is because it would have changed a law they already have in place that reads. Any Oregone law that changes Federal law regarding guns, ammo or magazines shall not be followed, observed or enforced by the sheriff in Coos County. In other words if Kate shit stain bisexual Brown decides that she or the legislature is going to remove or stop the usage of the AR or AK platform or make a law that says you cannot have more than ten rounds, she has tried for no more than… Read more »


100% agree. As an OR native, this hits home. Hate Brown and MI’s commie Vitmer should hook up if they haven’t already. And I guarantee you here in OR, the dimms have had since ’95 to perfect their mail-in voting scam. 25 years of a rigged system. No wonder we have nothing but dimms running the state. Now it’s a nationwide problem.


voids any “county, city or other municipal” ordinance that seeks to regulate or restrict firearms and ammunition.” note well: the operant word in this statement is RESTRICT. These legitmate ordinances do not RESTRICT anynoe’s use of firearms. They may well RESTRICT unconstitutional enforcement of unconstitutional laws. This also fails to take into account that the SHERIFF is the chief law enforcementofficer in his own county. We need more sheriffs that refuse to enforce such laws as the stupid Brownish restrictions. I know of one Sheriff who learned USFS were ticketing people in his county for traffic “violatios. He first went… Read more »


Unless they are refusing to enforce all arms laws and arresting and prosecuting those who do then it’s not a 2A sanctuary. It’s nothing more than pandering for votes.


Leftist false premise: “The station said both gun rights ordinances “may also conflict with the U.S. Constitution Supremacy Clause, which says county and state laws cannot supersede federal law.” Wrong answer. Federal law the conflicts with the Constitution is moot and is rendered so by State action. We are a Republic composed of fifty republics in union before law of our Constitution. Uninfringed means exactly that. Our duty as citizens and as elected officials in States, Counties and Cities is to guard the Constitution of our Federal Republic as well as our state. The purpose of government is to defend… Read more »


Thanks nrringlee. You are correct. Conveniently eliminated from education in secondary and universities is Constitutional law and its original intent. States do in fact have the right to nullify Federal unconstitutional laws even when backed by the USSC. Read Thomas Woods’ “Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century.” Then teach your representatives and tell everyone you know. The Framers were smart to give us the Tenth Amendment among others. Take action. Be assertive, not aggressive.

Gene Ralno

Another great article Dave. I was struck by your phrase “…transferring guilt from the perpetrator…to the instrument…” I’d add for the uninitiated that such non-logic breaks when someone is stabbed, hammered, strangled, drowned, run over and so on. Democrats rarely mention that firearms are more effective than any of those things. The result is they’re used more than a million times every year for personal protection.