Leave It To The Beaver State

Oregon Gun Rights Battle Crosses Into The Surreal
; .

An Oregon ballot measure being challenged in federal and state courts
mandates a “permit to purchase” a firearm, something Oregon residents
have never before needed. They are also required to get safety training.

You’ve got to be a masochist to enjoy the battle over gun rights in the Pacific Northwest, on both sides of the Columbia River, but you really do need to pay attention because the outcome is going to have national implications.

Whether we’re headed into a Happy New Year, as the end of 2022 is just over the horizon, remains to be seen. A lot depends upon how much the Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen affects the ultimate fate of Ballot Measure 114 in Oregon and a 2018 gun control initiative in neighboring Washington, tied up in a lawsuit for nearly four years.

We’ll begin with the Oregon ballot measure, because it’s got the makings of a bad sitcom. As December opened, at least four federal lawsuits and one state-level lawsuit were filed against the measure. It includes the following tenets:

• Requires safety training to include a live fire exercise, taught by a law enforcement certified instructor;

• Requires a permit to purchase a firearm, issued by a law enforcement agency upon completion of the safety course

• Bans so-called “large capacity magazines” capable of holding more than ten rounds. Caveat: If you already own such magazines, you can keep them and even use them with certain restrictions.

In less than a month after passage of Measure 114, it was hit with not one, not two, not even three but four federal lawsuits, involving either as plaintiffs or supporters, every major gun rights organization in the country.

We’re talking about the Second Amendment Foundation (which filed two lawsuits, one focusing on the magazine limit and the other on the permit/training mandate), and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (with the Oregon State Shooting Association, supported by the National Rifle Association). Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the Gun Owners Foundation filed a brief supporting the Oregon Firearms Federation’s lawsuit. The Firearms Policy Coalition joins SAF in both of its lawsuits. Along as a plaintiff in one lawsuit is the retailer Sportsman’s Warehouse. Another lawsuit involves Mazama Sporting Goods. There seemed to be an attorney behind every Douglas fir tree.

The first lawsuit sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, on constitutional grounds. U.S. District Court Judge Karin J. Immergut, a Donald Trump appointee, denied motions by the Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF) and three county sheriffs for the restraining order and injunction. Backers of the gun control measure cheered. The law was to take effect Thursday, Dec. 8.

However, later the same day as reported by KGW News, Harney County Circuit Judge Robert S. Raschio granted a TRO and injunction, in a case brought by the GOA in state court, based not on the Second Amendment, but on the Oregon State Constitution’s right to bear arms provision, Article 1, Section 27, which reads, “The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power[.]” Nobody saw that one coming.

The Immergut ruling was specific to the OFF case. There were still three other federal complaints waiting in the wings.


Meanwhile, Across the River

For the benefit of everyone who doesn’t understand how federal civil lawsuits, especially dealing with the Second Amendment, typically unfold, learn the word SLOW.

About the same time the Portland judge was knocking out her 43-page Measure 114 ruling, the Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco vacated and remanded a challenge to Washington’s restrictive Initiative 1639, based on the Bruen ruling.

Note: The SAF/NRA case was originally filed in February 2019, just three months after voters passed the measure in November 2018. This thing has been gathering dust for almost four years.

The background story about the 2018 election is disheartening, and educational. Wealthy elitists bankrolled the initiative campaign while the opposition mounted a comparatively feeble effort, with a pauper-level war chest. The measure included an invented definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle,” a gun Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich bluntly told reporters “doesn’t exist.” The definition applies to every semi-auto rifle ever manufactured, regardless of caliber.


Believe it or not, both rifles pictured here fall within the definition of
“semiautomatic assault rifle” under a Washington initiative now the
subject of a revived federal lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment
Foundation and National Rifle Association.

I-1639 also prohibits young adults ages 18-20 from purchasing such a firearm, requires proof of training, an “enhanced” background check and waiting period for purchasers over age 21. The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association are co-plaintiffs.

The Ninth Circuit order included this notation: “The district court’s judgment is vacated in its entirety, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen.”

So, what does the Bruen ruling, which was about New York’s egregious concealed carry law, have to do with a challenge in Washington involving rifles? Maybe not much until you get to Page 8 of Justice Clarence Thomas’ ruling: “In Heller and McDonald, we held that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. In doing so, we held unconstitutional two laws that prohibited the possession and use of handguns in the home.

In the years since, the Courts of Appeals have coalesced around a ‘two-step’ framework for analyzing Second Amendment challenges that combines history with means-end scrutiny. Today, we decline to adopt that two-part approach.”

The ruling added, “To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest. Rather, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”


A Big ‘Oops’

This is where the monkey comes in with the wrench. There is no historical tradition of such firearms regulation. That is, when the Constitution was authored, including the Bill of Rights, there were no prohibitions on young adults having and carrying guns. They’d been doing it for years.

Ask any historian and they’ll confirm the Continental Army and militia troops included people as young as 16 and certainly age 18. The “assault weapon” of the day was a musket or a rifle, and some of these youths were pretty good shots.

Apparently, nobody in the gun ban crowd ever expected the Supreme Court to tell the country gun bans probably won’t wash, and regardless of Joe Biden’s claims the Second Amendment prohibited some people from owning guns — it really didn’t, according to historians with whom Insider has chatted over the years — those damned Colonials were a fairly well-armed bunch, as the British learned to their dismay.

While Washington’s case has been remanded, apparently under a different judge and with new Second Amendment guidelines, what happened earlier this month in neighboring Oregon is something law students and constitutional scholars will debate for years to come.


Oregon’s Measure 114 bans the future sale and manufacture of so-called
“large capacity” magazines but allows people to keep magazines they already own.

Oregon voters narrowly — and that means 50.7% to 49.3% — passed Measure 114, which bans the future sale, manufacture, importation and purchase of so-called “high-capacity magazines.” It also requires every gun buyer to provide proof of safety training from a law-enforcement certified instructor, and they must also obtain a permit to purchase.

What other constitutionally-protected right, enumerated in the Bill of Rights, require a piece of paper from the government in order that it be exercised? At that point, we’re not talking about a right, but a government-regulated privilege.


Should We Celebrate?

It’s probably a bit too early to break out the party favors, and even if you want to raise a ruckus as you usher in the New Year, be a little careful not to laugh too hard.

Kevin Starrett at the Oregon Firearms Federation predicted a long hard battle might be on the horizon. After all, gun prohibitionists do not like losing and they will stubbornly defend their trophy legislation despite court rulings. It’s like doing election recounts; they want to keep recounting until they get the desired results.

But the Northwest could be the Second Amendment battleground for the foreseeable future. Gun owners can be cautiously optimistic, but don’t get over-confident. It’s at that point people make mistakes; after all, look what happened to the “red wave” everyone expected in November. So many people believed the election was in the bag, they simply didn’t bother to vote, and the “wave” became something of a small ripple.

Attorneys involved in these lawsuits are among the best in the field. They know what they’re doing. This is going to be very educational. Keep your eyes peeled on the Northwest. What happens there could happen near you, unless it stops there.


Trigger Unhappy

Earlier this month, three Chicago teens picked the wrong guy for an attempted robbery, according to WLS News.

In a report that underscores the need to pack hardware for personal protection, it was detailed how the three teens in a car approached a 56-year-old guy sitting in his own car at about 6 a.m. on Dec. 5. One of the suspects got out of his car, pulled a gun and aimed it at the intended victim and demanded his “belongings.”

Instead of giving up his goods, the older gent started struggling with the suspect. The legally armed good guy drew and opened fire as the thugs tried to get away, but their getaway vehicle crashed.

The driver was hit in the head and taken to a hospital. A second suspect was found “several blocks away” with a shoulder wound. The third guy, who didn’t even make it out of the crashed vehicle, suffered a broken leg.

And the good guy? Not even a scratch.

Subscribe To GUNS Magazine