Oregon voters in November narrowly approved a ballot measure that would impose strict new gun control laws that were set to take effect on Dec. 8 — until, that is, just two days before that date, a county judge issued a temporary restraining order to block its enforcement.
The state immediately appealed the matter to the Oregon Supreme Court with a request that the county judge’s order be blocked with a stay, but that request was denied and dismissed on Wednesday by the state’s highest court, the Tampa Free Press reported.
Had the measure gone into effect, Oregon gun owners would be required to obtain an as-yet non-existent state permit to purchase a firearm, a background check would have to be completed before a firearms sale could be finalized — regardless of how long that might take — and so-called “high-capacity” magazines holding more than 10 rounds, which are standard in the firearms industry, would be banned, though already possessed magazines would be permitted.
State Supreme Court declines to intervene
The Associated Press reported that Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenbaum (D) filed a motion Wednesday morning that sought intervention from the state Supreme Court to take up the case and issue a stay against the lower court’s temporary restraining order that blocked Ballot Measure 114 from going into effect.
Just hours later, however, Chief Justice Martha Walters declined to intervene and dismissed the request for a stay as moot, meaning the lower court’s temporary block of the new law would remain in place.
BREAKING: Oregon Supreme Court REJECTS appeal to allow state to enforce unconstitutional measure 114. GOF’s & @GunOwners’ TRO against gun control continues to remain in effect! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/QLmPSODaUT
— Gun Owners Foundation (@GunFoundation) December 8, 2022
The AP noted that multiple lawsuits have been filed against BM 114 at both the state and federal levels, and this particular case, known as Arnold v. Brown, involved several individual Oregon gun owners backed by the Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation organizations.
BM 114 would result in “deprivation of fundamental constitutional rights”
The Oregonian reported Tuesday that Harney County Circuit Judge Robert Raschio had ruled in favor of the gun owners and granted their request for a temporary restraining order to block the new gun control laws within BM 114 from going into effect.
His ruling came just a few hours after a federal district judge had given approval for the new laws to go into effect, albeit with a 30-day delay in implementation, but that federal ruling in a different case had no bearing on the state-level lawsuit and ruling that was “separate and binding.”
To be sure, Judge Raschio’s order was only temporary, and he set a date of Dec. 13 for a hearing in which the state must argue why he shouldn’t turn the temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction.
That said, the judge acknowledged that if the new laws were allowed to go into effect, Oregon gun owners would be “deprived of their right to bear arms” under the Oregon Constitution and would be “made unable to lawfully purchase a firearm or bear a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”
He further noted in the order that, per the state constitution, the “deprivation of fundamental constitutional rights for any period constitutes irreparable harm” worthy of judicial intervention.
“Individual liberty” threatened by new gun control laws
“With implementation, there are serious harms to the public interest as well, which could include individuals being arrested and prosecuted for Class A misdemeanors under what could be found to be an unconstitutional statutory scheme,” Judge Raschio said from the bench while delivering his ruling, according to The Oregonian.
“And that potential could happen if Ballot Measure 114 is allowed to go into effect without significant judicial scrutiny,” he added. “And, certainly, no one would argue that individual liberty is not a cornerstone of our country. First the people, then the state.”