Oregon wants high
court to toss orders blocking gun measure

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The state attorney general has petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court to either toss out a circuit judge’s rulings that block the implementation of a new, voter-approved gun safety measure or else explain why the rulings should stand.
Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Koch argued in court filings Friday that intervention by the state’s high court is necessary to allow “the will of the people of Oregon” to proceed, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Koch wrote that Harney County Circuit Judge Robert S. Raschio’s orders halt the Measure 114 regulations “indefinitely.” Koch argued that the trial court doesn’t have the authority to make policy on a public safety matter and override the initiative process.
“Keeping people safe is a fundamental duty, mission, and purpose of government,” Koch wrote. “By ignoring binding precedent, the trial court disregarded the will of the people and forestalled the state’s efforts to protect Oregonians from gun violence.”
Raschio in the last two months halted all parts of the gun control measure, citing state constitutional law.
The measure requires a permit to buy a gun, a background check to be completed before a gun can be sold or transferred and restricts the sale, manufacture and use of magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It passed with nearly 51% of the vote.
The case filed in Harney County Circuit Court was brought by Virginia-based Gun Owners of America, its legal defense fund Gun Owners Foundation and two gun owners.
Raschio’s orders came in separate rulings over the past two months. He found that the Gun Owners of America had shown that pausing Measure 114 will maintain the “status quo” until the court can determine whether the measure meets constitutional muster.
He ruled that the public interest weighed against the implementation of the measure, noting that individual liberty is a “cornerstone of our country.” He also ruled that magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are not distinct from “arms,” and are protected by the Oregon Constitution.
Koch countered in court filings Friday that Raschio made “fundamental legal” errors and acted beyond his discretion. Oregon Constitution protects only the right to bear arms commonly used by Oregonians for self-defense in 1859 and earlier, and doesn’t relate to magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, Koch wrote.
Further, he argued that the state constitution does not provide for “an unfettered right to possess or use constitutionally protected arms in any way they please.”
Separately, in response to four suits filed in federal court, a federal judge only delayed the permit-to-purchase gun regulation but allowed the measure’s other regulations to take effect. Raschio’s ruling, though, was separate and binding, in that it resulted from a separate challenge to the state’s constitution, not the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.
At a minimum, Koch argued, the state Supreme Court should put a hold on Raschio’s orders that prevent a criminal background check from being completed before a gun can be sold — and the measure’s restrictions on large-capacity magazines.
The state argued that 19 of 21 mass shootings with 10 or more fatalities since 1999 have involved guns with magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
“The longer that the trial court’s injunctive orders remain in effect — for the months or years in which the case is pending in that court — the greater the possibility of another comparable tragedy happening here in Oregon,” Koch wrote. “These dangers are real, and Measure 114 reasonably seeks to safeguard against them.”
The state Supreme Court will either accept or deny the petition. If it is accepted, the state’s high court will then decide whether to throw out Raschio’s orders or direct the circuit judge to explain why the state’s high court should maintain them. The plaintiffs would be able to file briefings in support of Raschio’s rulings.