The federal challenge to Oregon’s Measure 114, approved narrowly last November, is getting underway this week in Portland, where U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut will have the first, but not likely the last word om whether the restrictive measure passes constitutional muster.
According to the Associated Press, the trial is being held before Judge Immergut, without a jury. But it could have some interesting twists because of last year’s Supreme Court decision in the Bruen case, which has literally “upended” gun laws across the country, as noted by the AP story.
Four federal lawsuits were filed quickly after the measure passed, challenging the new law on constitutional grounds. At the same time, a state-level challenge was filed in Harney County, in eastern Oregon, where Circuit Judge Robert S. Raschio has prevented the law from taking effect. A trial on that lawsuit is scheduled in September.
The measure bans magazines capable of holding more than ten cartridges, requires safety training in order to purchase a firearm, a background check and a police-issued purchase permit. Critics contend these requirements render the law unconstitutional because it infringes on the right to keep and bear arms.
The Oregon Capital Chronicle, Measure 114 is “intended to help stem the scourge of gun violence and mass shootings and close gaps that allow bad actors to slip through.”
But in pre-trial testimony last week, nationally-recognized firearms authority and author Massad Ayoob, who also serves as president of the Second Amendment Foundation, said on the stand, “On principle, I don’t see supporting a law I know the criminals will never obey.” In a nutshell, that statement sums up what many believe is the foolhardy belief by Measure 114 supporters that placing all kinds of restrictions on law-abiding citizens will somehow prevent criminals from committing crimes.
Lead plaintiffs are the Oregon Firearms Federation and Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey.
The court allowed the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety—a gun control group—to intervene in the case. They are represented by attorney Zach Pekelis with the Seattle-based Pacifica Law Group. They argue the magazine ban and permit-to-purchase are constitutional.
Measure 114 is opposed by the Oregon Association of Sheriff’s, according to KGW News, and is also being challenged by an array of gun rights organizations including the Second Amendment Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, Gun Owners of America and, through its state affiliate, the National Rifle Association.
Gun owners and gun prohibition groups across the country are watching this case closely. If the measure is upheld, many in the Second Amendment community are worried it will spawn similar initiatives in other states, where groups backed by wealthy elitists will be able to mount expensive campaigns.