Oregon’s Measure 114 Section Of Reduction Of Gun Violence Act Likely To be Found Unconstitutional Following Hearing
Following a hearing on January 2nd in the matter of Arnold v. Kotek (2023), Harney County Circuit Court Judge Robert Raschio has ordered the parties to draft and review his ruling for filing with the case’s court record. The order provides that the ruling should be based on his conclusion that Measure 114 is unconstitutional for Oregon.
The Reduction of Gun Violence Act has 13 sections involving gun ownership in Oregon, and Measure 114 relating to this Act was included as a note that would have required prospective gun buyers to apply with police for permission to purchase a firearm. By compelling police to approve of the permit- or applicant, to purchase a gun, the measure would have required police to create and operate an application process and maintain databases with applicant/application information.
The so-called “permit to purchase” necessitates payment by applicants for permits and gun training, and means that permit applicants would be required to supply full sets of fingerprints with their applications. In addition, the size of gun ammunition magazines, or clips, would be limited to a maximum of ten rounds.
The court application was brought by Joseph Arnold, Cliff Asmussen, Gun Owners of America, Inc., and Gun Owners Foundation against state representatives in their official capacities- Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie. In the hearing that Judge Raschio set to consider objections, the Defendants also made a motion that the Court stay- or delay, the issuing of its judgment pending appeal by the Defendants.
Denying the motion, Judge Raschio stated that the Court’s judgment language would reflect his opinion letter of November 21, 2023, that granted a permanent injunction in the case. In the letter, the judge placed on record his opinion that Measure 114 is unconstitutional when measured against Oregon’s Constitution and went further, saying that Oregon’s gun control policy which was passed in November 2022 by referendum as Measure 114, violated the state’s constitution. Filing an objection the first week of December to the Court’s original finding, the defendants listed 7 seven objections to the court’s finding, stating that:
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation will not conduct background checks.
- The finding delays the purchase of firearms for a minimum of 30 days.
- The Plaintiffs failed to present public safety evidence.
- They did not agree with the findings regarding ownership of firearms.
- The media sensationalizes mass shootings.
- Almost all emigrants to the Oregon Territory had firearms.
- A magazine is a necessary component of a firearm.
Judge Raschio found that the plaintiffs had shown that their rights to bear arms under Article l, § 27 of the Oregon Constitution would be unconstitutionally impaired should Ballot Measure 114 be implemented.
Stating that The Harney County Circuit Court was issuing a permanent injunction under Oregon Revised Statute 28.020, he declared that the 2022 Ballot Measure 114 was unconstitutional and the finding would permanently enjoin the implementation of this measure, based on the judgment in the matter of Dovle v. City of Medford, 356 Or. 336 (2014), as well as a constitutional evaluation of Ballot Measure 114. Conforming with State v. Christian, 354 Or. 22 (2013), the measure would unduly burden the plaintiffs’ right to bear arms.
The judge went on to say that- using its equitable power, it declared and adjudged Ballot Measure 114 to be facially unconstitutional in all of its applications under Oregon Constitution, Article l, § 27, under ORS 28.010, et al. It made this declaration to settle the matter and also to afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity concerning the right to bear arms in Oregon. Judge Rschio stated, “ORS 28.120. Ballot Measure 114 is permanently enjoined from implementation.”
Issuing a temporary order suspending Measure 114 from taking effect in December 2022- the date on which the case was filed, Judge Raschio confirmed that the matter was necessary to be heard before he could sign the final order. In the initial phases, the judges had recognized that the legal status of Measure 114 is of significant concern to many Oregonians, and acknowledged that it is the role of the judicial branch of government to resolve disputes- such as challenges to laws enacted by the legislative branch This includes the people exercising their initiative power. At that stage, the motion was denied without prejudice but did not serve as a bar to any future challenge in this court or otherwise on appeal. The Harney County hearing was an appeal.
With the debate on gun control ongoing, Harney County Circuit Court’s finding on Measure 114’s Arnold v. Kotek matter is a final order but it is likely to be the subject of further debate in the future.