An Oregon judge has put on hold a gun control law that received narrow approval from Oregon voters in a 2022 referendum.
The measure, known as Measure 114, was approved with just 50.65 percent of the vote, securing majorities in only six out of Oregon’s 36 counties. This law requires a permit for purchasing any type of firearm, bans magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and was dubbed “the nation’s most extreme gun control Initiative” by the National Rifle Association, as reported by Fox News.
“This Thanksgiving, we can be thankful for Article I, section 27 and its continued protection of our right to bear arms,” attorney Tony Aiello Jr., who represented two gun owners, said.
A key issue in dispute revolved around whether the concept between semi-automatic and automatic weapons marked such a break from the past that the Oregon state constitution no longer applied.
“The idea that Oregon’s pioneers intended to freeze the firearm technology accessible by Oregonians to antiques is ridiculous on its face,” Aiello said.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said the state will appeal. “The Harney County judge’s ruling is wrong. Worse, it needlessly puts Oregonians’ lives at risk,” she said.
The law faced legal challenges after being passed and, as reported by the Associated Press, has never been enforced. Despite a federal trial resulting in a ruling that the law met federal Constitutional standards, it still needs to demonstrate compliance with both state and federal constitutions before it can take effect.
In his ruling, Circuit Court Judge Robert Raschio said a citizen’s right to self-defense would be unduly burdened by the law, noting that when Oregon passed its constitution, it wanted to give settlers as much technological protection through weapons as possible.
“The court finds the (voters) of 1857 did not seek to restrain access to the best firearms with the highest functionality possible they could procure,” he wrote.
He said that limiting magazine capacity “does not enhance public safety.”
“The court finds that the large capacity magazine ban effectively bans all firearm magazines fixed or attached which is unconstitutional under any application of said law,” he wrote.
Raschio rejected claims that a magazine limit promoted safety.
“The court finds that 10-round magazine bans are no panacea to prevent a mass shooter,” he wrote. “People tend to believe these events are prolific and happening all the time with massive levels of death and injury. The court finds this belief, though sensationalized by the media, is not validated by the evidence.”
The decision is likely “the first opening salvo of multiple rounds of litigation,” Norman Williams, a constitutional law professor at Willamette University said.
“The U.S. Constitution sets a floor, not a ceiling, for rights, so state constitutions can be more rights-protective than the federal constitution,” Williams noted.
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