Judge Blocks Oregon’s Measure 114 — At Least for Now

Oregon’s gun owners scored another temporary victory on Tuesday.

Ballot Measure 114, a law passed by a razor-thin majority of votes in November seeks to create some of the toughest gun control measures in the country. Such as:

  • Bans of magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds
  • The creation of a permit-to-purchase (PtP) scheme
  • And a requirement that background checks be completed prior to the transfer of any firearm in the state, closing the so-called “Charleston Loophole.”

In a Harney County courtroom, Judge Robert S. Raschio issued his decision that followed a Dec. 23rd hearing. Both sides in the case made their arguments about whether or not the Charleston Loophole component of 114 could go into effect, even while other portions of the law are temporarily blocked by the court.

Both sides included arguments, as well as written declarations and statements from concerned and involved parties, which the judge considered. After taking more than a week to deliberate, Raschio ruled on Tuesday that the state cannot implement the additional background check requirement.

“We are pleased with the outcome of the Dec. 23rd hearing,” said an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, Tony Aiello, Jr. “[The measure] is patently unconstitutional in all of its provisions under both the Federal and State constitutions,” he added.

Second Amendment proponents likewise were relieved by Raschio’s decision, even if that relief was tempered by the acknowledgment that the court’s current temporary restraining order prohibiting the law from going into effect is just that – temporary.

SEE ALSO: The Rollout of Oregon’s Ballot Measure 114 is a Total Disaster, Here’s the Latest

I was one of those proponents, waiting on word from the court as to the judge’s decision. One of the declarations entered into the case was written by me – regarding my knowledge and experience as a background examiner for the Oregon State Police’s Firearms Instant Check System (FICS) for nearly 8 years.

During my time in the unit, I personally processed roughly 100,000 background checks and came to know the ins and outs of the system, its strengths and weaknesses, how well it does and doesn’t marry state statutes with federal code as well as other states’ laws, and even how ineffective the system can be in doing what it purports to do – protecting the residents of Oregon.

My statement to the court focused on the incapability of the current system to function effectively even at current workloads, let alone how it would fare with the addition of another as-yet nonexistent background check system for the PtP requirement of Measure 114.

The glacially slow progress of the current system is itself evidence of the necessity of the portion of current state and federal law that allows an FFL to release a firearm after 72 business hours, even without a completed background check — the inflammatorily-termed “Charleston Loophole.”

“What many call a ‘loophole’ is not a loophole at all,” said Aiello, agreeing with the sentiment in my statement. “It is a designed feature under both Oregon and Federal law to prevent Oregonians from being deprived on their rights while background checks take weeks, months, or in some cases years to be processed.”

Arguments during the Dec. 23rd hearing touched on this idea while focusing on whether the ballot measure’s background check provision could legally be separated from the other two provisions of the law, a concept known as severability.

Raschio’s decision on Tuesday, for the time being at least, seemed to recognize the inability to separate and sever the PtP scheme from the background check provision.

SEE ALSO: GOA and GOF Secure Comprehensive Temporary Restraining Order Against Oregon Gun Law

“The court declines to remove the background check provisions from the [temporary restraining order] as the provisions are intertwined with the permit-to-purchase program and the court has made no final determination on constitutionality of the program,” Raschio wrote in his order.

Raschio’s order enjoins the entirety of Measure 114 from going into effect, until both the state and federal courts can review and determine the constitutionality of the law at both levels, including the PtP scheme once the state finalizes the yet-to-be-developed program. State leaders indicated it could be finalized around March 7th.

The plaintiffs in the case against Measure 114 will be forced to wait and prepare their arguments until then, as interested firearm rights proponents, like myself, watch with bated breath to see what arguments each side will bring before this particular legal challenge is brought to a close in a decision that could potentially create thousands of new criminals out of Oregon residents overnight.

Until then, Raschio’s decision maintains the status quo of Oregon law. Firearm dealers will be allowed to complete transfers after 72 business hours if they choose. In the wake of unprecedented background check delays and backlogs, Oregonians may find themselves with few other options.

“A right delayed is a right denied,” Aiello added, “so Oregon and Federal law provide a relief valve to prevent the deprivation of rights.”

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About the author: Brian Jones Strong 2A proponent, Army Veteran. I earned my writing chops as a military journalist, continuing on to complete my BA at UMD in Communication, before working on political campaigns, and working with firearm regulations. When I’m not bending someone’s ear about the encroachment on our individual rights, I can usually be found at the range, or in my shop pretending to be a hobbyist blacksmith.

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