After deliberating more than a week, Harney County Circuit Judge Robert Raschio in Burns, Oregon declined to lift an earlier order putting Measure 114 on hold, keeping a section of the measure requiring a completed background check before a gun transaction may be completed.
In his new opinion, Judge Raschio explained, “(O)nly if the court holds the permit-to-purchase program unconstitutional will it consider severing the background checks” from the rest of the measure. A paragraph earlier, the judge noted the background check component “is inexorably linked with the permit-to-purchase program. To find otherwise requires the court to ignore the operative language linking each provision on background checks to the permit-to-purchase program.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), Measure 114 remains “blocked in its entirety.”
Reacting to the latest development, Oregon Firearms Federation founder Kevin Starrett told Ammoland News via email, “While we are very pleased by today’s rulings we know we are not out of the woods yet. We fully expect the state to appeal the Judge’s decision and we expect the Oregon Legislature to make changes to Measure 114 that will make it worse and change the course of the lawsuits.
“But,” he continued, “we are very excited to see some of the best legal minds in the country and most powerful pro-gun organizations working hand in hand to put a stop to these unconstitutional attacks.”
Gun Owners of America and the Gun Owners Foundation, along with several private citizens, filed the lawsuit. It is the only state court-level legal action initiated against the restrictive gun control measure, passed by a thin margin Nov. 8.
There are still four federal lawsuits against the measure on federal constitutional grounds. They were filed in Portland, more than 250 miles northeast of Burns, the small eastern Oregon community now in the spotlight.
“The court declines to remove the background check provisions from the TRO as the provisions are intertwined with the permit-to-purchase program and the court has made no final determination on constitutionality of the program,” Judge Raschio wrote in his two-page order issued Tuesday.
Measure 114 includes several mandates, including what Starrett considers an open-ended background check period that could allow the Oregon State Police to drag out the process virtually indefinitely.
The tenet to which this check is tied is the permit-to-purchase requirement, which forces would-be gun purchasers to first complete a safety course, including a live-fire portion, for which law enforcement agencies in the state are not prepared to provide. Oregon Live noted the state “won’t be ready to support a permitting program until early March.” Until then, there may be no movement on any of the lawsuits, and any ruling by Raschio that Measure 114 violates the Oregon State Constitution will likely be appealed. And that still leaves the federal complaints to be addressed.
A third component is a ban on so-called “large capacity magazines” capable of holding more than ten cartridges. This part of the measure is being challenged separately by SAF, the Firearms Policy Coalition, G4 Archery, and Grayguns, Inc.
While Judge Raschio has the entire measure on hold, U.S. District Judge Karin Immergut rejected a lawsuit filed by OFF in December, explaining, “Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that they will suffer immediate and irreparable harm if this Court does not block Measure 114 from taking effect.” The law was to have become effective on Dec. 8.
Three other federal lawsuits were filed, including two by SAF and its allies, and by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Oregon Shooting Sports Association.
Oregon anti-gunners were able to eke out a victory, insisting it would make the Beaver State safer. Opponents believe the measure is unconstitutional in its entirety.
During the time when the lawsuits were all being filed, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb observed, “Maybe the most frustrating thing about the Oregon measure is that officials there are willing to enforce the law’s provisions despite any real prospect this law is going to reduce violent crime. The only people actually impacted are law-abiding citizens who don’t commit crimes, and who will be left more vulnerable to attack because of this new law.”
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