Gun Control Passes, Questions Remain | The Source Weekly
Oregon Measure 114, a bill that establishes a permit-to-carry system, limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds and closes a loophole allowing someone to get a gun without a background check if it takes more than three days to process, passed with 50.68% of the vote and is expected to be implemented on Dec. 8.
Oregon joins nine states with a permit-to-purchase system, only one of which, California, requires some sort of firearm training courses before a permit is granted — though Washington requires a firearm course to buy semiautomatic rifles. Oregon’s permits would be active for five years before expiring and the cost is capped at $65 initially and a $50 renewal.
Though these safety courses could be necessary to purchase a gun as soon as Dec. 8, the contents of the firearm safety course aren’t clear. When asked about the measure, the Oregon State Police said it is working with legal counsel to resolve questions on the measure. Meanwhile firearm trainers said they’ve received little information on the classes.
“There is no guidance,” said Patrick Combs, a firearm instructor who runs Deschutes Firearms Training. “I don’t know if it’s going to be a premade program, or if they’re just going to kind of give a framework and you need to stay within that framework.”
The measure faced a near-immediate legal challenge by the Oregon Firearms Federation, the Sherman County sheriff and a gun store owner claiming the measure infringes on Second Amendment rights. Oregon sheriffs in Sherman, Linn, Jefferson and Wallowa counties have said they won’t enforce the laws. Others, including the Crook County sheriff and Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson said the measure will be a low priority for their offices.
Prior to the bill passing, Nelson asked voters to reject Measure 114 in a video he recorded in his role as president of the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association. He said the measure would take up already-scarce resources from law enforcement agencies to establish and oversee a permitting system, estimating that the program would have a $30 million deficit statewide. The Oregon State Police and Oregon Justice Department both estimated the system would be close to
“Oregon already has a strong background check process before a person purchases a firearm. This measure will create a duplicate background system that further reduces law enforcement resources,” Nelson said.
As the implementation date approaches, more people are buying guns before the uncertainty kicks in. On average the OSP’s instant check background check request processes about 849 checks a day, but that number has soared to over 4,000 daily checks, according to police.
“Sales have been through the roof. I’ve never seen anything like it in the state of Oregon,” said Sharon Preston, owner of Ladies of Lead, a Redmond-based gun store and training program catering to women.
Preston also said there’s confusion over what happens when the law is implemented to the currently pending background checks. Magazine capacity is also a point of the bill that’s been challenged. The United States Supreme Court vacated California’s large-capacity gun magazine ban in June, meaning a lower court will have to revise its ruling, but doesn’t necessarily rule capacity limits unconstitutional.
Though the new measure could complicate the process of buying a gun for gun owners, advocates point to fewer homicides, suicides and mass shootings in states that use a licensing program. The Giffords Law Center said studies show homicides decreasing by 28% and suicides by 33% in Connecticut after passing licensing laws, and that states with licensing laws have 56% fewer
“This win for Measure 114 is a huge turning point – we have shown the country that voters do want serious action on gun violence prevention,” said Chief Petitioner Rabbi Michael Cahana in a press release after Measure 114 passed. “Hopes and prayers are not enough when your neighbors are bleeding, when action is possible, and you have the power to do something. And tonight Oregonians took action, utilized the power of democracy, and achieved something remarkable, a victory for other states to follow.”