The Fight for Freedom in Oregon Explained

posted on December 16, 2022

When anti-gun advocates in Oregon managed to get one of the worst gun-control schemes in the state’s history on the November ballot, we warned that gun owners in the state needed to get to the polls in great numbers to stop the initiative.

Then, when Measure 114 somehow managed to be approved by voters by just over a 1% margin, we explained how the scheme was both unconstitutional and unworkable, with no framework in place for implementing many key aspects of the hastily and ill-conceived plan.

Now, in the midst of an NRA-backed lawsuit challenging the law before it has even taken effect, even the state of Oregon is trying to tap the brakes on implementation. In fact, even the Oregon Supreme Court recently blocked the measure from taking effect.

First, a little background. As approved by voters, Ballot Measure 114 creates a government registry of gun owners’ personal information and firearms, requires a permit to purchase a firearm, imposes an indefinite delay on background checks and bans any magazine with over a 10-round capacity. And that’s just for starters.

One of the main sticking points with the measure is the fact that the permit to purchase is a misnomer. As NRA-ILA pointed out in a news story announcing the lawsuit, the process requires individuals to complete several burdensome tasks to acquire a permit, but it does not actually permit them to purchase a firearm; in fact, the measure’s text specifically states: “A permit-to-purchase issued under this section does not create any right of the permit holder to receive a firearm.”

Additionally, there is no system in place for issuing such permits, despite the Dec. 8, 2022, effective date. Because of that, Oregon’s law-abiding citizens cannot, according to this law, now legally purchase a firearm.

The lawsuit challenging the new law points out this glaringly unconstitutional infringement on a recognized, enumerated right; you cannot “bear arms” if you cannot buy them. “One might think that a state bent on imposing such a novel and burdensome permitting regime would at least take the time to make sure it had the infrastructure and resources in place to ensure that it would operate as smoothly as possible,” the lawsuit states. “But Oregon is not even willing to do that. Instead, the state has rushed the effective date of its new law to December 8, 2022—before the vote on Measure 114 has even been certified, and before the mechanisms to comply with it will be anywhere close to in place.”

NRA-ILA Executive Director Jason Ouimet noted, “It’s difficult to imagine that no one realized the problems embedded in this ballot measure. It’s a great example of what happens when people with no experience with an issue attempt to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”

The NRA-backed lawsuit also exposes the unconstitutionality of the restrictive magazine ban: the lawsuit points out that lawful Americans own some 115 million such magazines, accounting for about half of all privately owned magazines in the United States, so they are clearly in common use.

On Dec. 4, after defending Ballot Measure 114’s rushed implementation, the state of Oregon did a complete about face. Instead of pushing forward, the state, in a letter to the court, wrote that postponement of one part of the law is crucial.

“The State Defendants will agree that implementation challenges require postponing implementation of one aspect of Measure 114,” the letter to the court said. “Specifically, the State agrees that the Court should enter an order providing a limited window in which Oregonians will be able to purchase firearms even if they do not have a permit, while also allowing Oregonians to apply for and be issued permits.”

In response to this letter, NRA-ILA’s Ouimet noted, “The state of Oregon agreeing to be bound by our preliminary injunction is concession that there are grave problems with this ballot measure. The harder they look, the more they will realize that this ballot measure should never be a part of Oregon law.”

And on Dec. 8, the Oregon Supreme Court denied the Oregon attorney general’s petition to dismiss a lower court’s ruling on Ballot Measure 114 as “moot.”

While postponing implementation of that provision of the law is a victory for Oregon gun owners, the battle is far from over.


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