Oregon Supreme Court declines to intervene in Measure 114 ruling

The state Supreme Court lets stand a Harney County judge’s order that temporarily blocks the firearms measure from taking effect

By: - December 8, 2022 9:22 am

Firearms dealers can continue to sell high-capacity magazines because Measure 114 will not go into effect as scheduled. The Oregon Supreme Court has let stand a Harney County judge's order that temporarily blocks Measure 114. (Connor Radnovich/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

The Oregon Supreme Court declined to intervene and block a Harney County judge’s order that temporarily stops a voter-approved firearms measure from going into effect.

The state Supreme Court’s order will keep Measure 114 from taking effect Thursday as litigation around the measure proceeds in court. Without the Harney County judicial order and Supreme Court’s decision, the measure would have banned the sale of high-capacity firearms magazines with more than 10 rounds starting today. It would also have and put a permit system in place for firearm purchases that requires buyers to undergo a training course with a law- enforcement-certified instructor.

The one-page decision, signed by Chief Justice Martha Walters, came late Wednesday in response to a request from the Oregon Department of Justice to overrule the Harney County decision. The state Supreme Court’s denial doesn’t give any insights as to the legal reasoning behind the decision.

It’s the latest in a series of quickly-moving legal activities and decisions around Measure 114 in the past week as its implementation date approached. he measure will not go into effect today, but lawsuits – and a potential resolution – will continue in the future.

“If you’re wondering about the legal status of Measure 114, the law’s enforcement is (we hope temporarily) on hold by the state courts,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a tweet on Thursday. “There is a hearing in Harney County next week and we will continue to defend the constitutionality of this voter-passed gun safety law.”

The measure, approved by voters in November, has drawn widespread opposition from firearms owners and dealers, as well as law enforcement agencies who said they could not meet all the requirements of the new permit system by today’s deadline.

The measure has already drawn several lawsuits from firearms advocacy groups, owners, firearms dealers and others. 

In the Harney County complaint filed last week, the plaintiffs include Gun Owners of America, based in Virginia, and a related organization, the Gun Owners Foundation, along with Joseph Arnold and Cliff Asmussen, two Harney County firearms owners. Gun Owners of America says on its website it has more than 2 million members and lobbies for firearms owners to exercise the “right to keep and bear arms without compromise.”

In a separate federal lawsuit challenging the measure, the Oregon Department of Justice asked a judge to delay the implementation of the permitting system, but allow other parts, like the ban on high-capacity magazine sales, to continue. That’s because law enforcement agencies have said they won’t have a permit system in place that meets all the new law’s requirements by today’s deadline. 

U.S. District Court Judge Karin Immergut granted the state justice department’s request this week, allowing the ban on high-capacity magazine sales but delaying the permit requirement for 30 days. The Oregon Firearms Federation is the lead plaintiff in the federal case, along with firearms dealers and others.


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Ben Botkin
Ben Botkin

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. He has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from the Midwest to Idaho for his first journalism job. Botkin has won multiple awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.