Two Oregon Counties Order Their Police to Not Enforce Most Gun Laws

The Umatilla County sheriff will no longer be allowed to enforce gun control laws. (Photo: Umatilla County Sheriff Facebook)

Two counties in Oregon approved ordinances this month penalizing police officers and other county employees if they choose to enforce many of the state’s gun control laws, including laws that govern carrying a concealed firearm, background check requirements, and laws that govern barrel length, magazine size, and suppressors.

Gun rights groups worked in the state to place the measure on the ballot in several Oregon counties, and voters in Columbia County and Umatilla County approved the ordinances.

“All we were doing was trying to get rid of all of the regulation that we believe are designed to eliminate gun ownership,” Rob Taylor, a gun rights activist, told Oregon Live.

The measures passed in the two counties are slightly different, but the ordinance passed by voters in Umatilla County prohibits the county and its employees – including law enforcement – from “devoting any resources or participating in any way in the enforcement of any law or regulation that affected an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, firearm accessories, or ammunition.”

SEE ALSO: Everytown Slams 2A Sanctuary Movement: ‘They’re Ripping Apart the Constitution’

The measure mentions several specific gun control laws that are not to be enforced, including taxes and fees on firearm purchases, background check requirements, restrictions on the ownership of semi-automatic rifles, and restrictions on carrying firearms (open or concealed).

The measure allows police to enforce laws prohibiting felons from owning firearms, but it levies hefty fines on those who enforce other laws: if a deputy or police officer enforces a gun law, they would face prosecution for a misdemeanor and possible fines of up to $2,000. The agency that employs them also would face up to $4,000 in fines.

As with the Second Amendment sanctuary laws passed in Virginia and other states, it’s unclear how these ordinances would stand up in court.

The Oregon Department of Justice hasn’t weighed in on the measures, according to Oregon Live. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum “doesn’t have an official view” of the proposals, said agency spokeswoman Karynn Fish. She said the agency and Rosenblum “are certainly on the record supporting and defending sensible gun regulations,” but they have no “formal opinion on these measures because none has been requested” by lawmakers or state agencies.

SEE ALSO: Other States Watch Virginia as 2A Sanctuary Movement Grows, Militia Mobilizes

Sanctuary cities protecting illegal immigrants from federal laws provide a precedent for the sanctuary concept, but those localities refuse to spend money to enforce federal laws. These Second Amendment sanctuary ordinances prohibit local officials from enforcing state laws, which they have sworn to uphold.

That difference could be a difficult barrier for these laws to overcome, according to Michael Boldin, executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center.

“I actually will tell you right out front, I am fully on board with the concept,” Boldin told Oregon Live. “I am with the gun rights people in concept, but I think they have crafted these so poorly that in practice they actually do nothing.”

Whether or not these laws stand up in court, they can have a positive effect for the gun rights movement. The momentum generated by the Second Amendment sanctuary movement in Virginia resulted in one of the largest pro-gun rallies at a state capital in history, and the efforts of activists have been credited with blocking the “assault weapon” ban promised by Virginia’s anti-gun governor.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • R. Lee November 24, 2020, 7:22 pm

    I’m happy to say I’m a resident of Columbia County, Oregon. We’re a pretty squared away bunch here, but we are also uncomfortably close (15 miles) to Portland. Being mainly a rural county, 70% of our working citizens commute to either Portland or nearby Washington County for their jobs mostly at Intel and Nike, which tend to be liberal organizations.

    We were already a 2nd Amendment sanctuary before this recent vote, and we were able to pass it again, although a bit closer than last time.

    I guess the media just got bored with reporting in, but yes, the riots are still happening. ANTIFA, also known as the Democrat Party Militia, along with BLM is still very active.

    The Oregon constitution says in Article 1, Section 27: “The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence [sic] of themselves, and the State, but the Military [National Guard] shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power[.]”

    It couldn’t be any clearer, but we have a rabidly anti-gun legislature, governor and supreme court. It’s only a matter of time.

    Thanks to the Oregon Firearms Federation and to a lesser degree the NRA, for keeping up the fight.

  • Delco November 23, 2020, 11:52 am

    There is no more room for compromise. If we hope to keep our country anything like it was while most of us grew up then this left wing madness has to be completely destroyed. The left wants to keep making new laws against law abiding citizens. The left has no problem with open borders and sending our businesses overseas, but is content with making gun owners suffer. Bette midler and the rest of the Hollywood frauds along with the Dems are people who will never understand the price of real freedom. We are at a point where all dem voters are as dangerous as any other enemies.

  • Eric Stevenson November 23, 2020, 11:26 am

    As an elected official in the state of Oregon I was required to take an oath of office prior to appointment to my position. I had to swear to uphold and defend the laws and the constitution of the United States of America and to uphold and defend the laws and the constitution of the state of Oregon. During my oath when I got to the laws and constitution of the state of Oregon I made it VERY clear that I would uphold and defend Oregon’s laws and constitution as long as they are not in direct conflict the federal laws and the U.S. constitution. I had a few people in attendance that did not like that but most of them clapped their hands and said that is why they voted for me. The Anti-gunners talk about common since gun laws and while I do agree with mandatory background checks for ALL firearm sales I think they should be free of charge to everyone. I also have to question the word common since, Common since says to not spend more money than you make and to always pay your bills but for some reason they NEVER have enough money so they raise our taxes to make u for their inability to spend and budget responsibly. For me it is very simple, I am willing to die to defend our constitutional rights. Are these people really just saying that they are willing to kill me to take them from me and everyone else? That would be a very dark day for our country’s citizens. The first thing that Mr. Biden must do is swear an oath to uphold, support, and defend the constitution and the sad thing is that he has no intention of honoring that oath. He will come for our right to keep and bear arms and many people will die to defend that right. I know that I will. Please be safe, patient, and use restraint until there is no other choice as violence is the very last option. Care for and protect your family, friends, neighbors, community as this country is made up of “WE THE PEOPLE” and some will not be able to protect themselves if things go terribly wrong.

    • BDF November 23, 2020, 10:12 pm

      My God man check your spelling. Your sloppy grammar is making your strong message look ignorant.

    • R. Lee November 24, 2020, 7:45 pm

      Mr. Stevenson, how do you propose to enforce mandatory background checks for “ALL firearm sales?” As a retired police major crime detective in the Portland metro area with 37 years of street level experience, I’d be fascinated to know how you would accomplish that by simply passing another law.

      For instance, when dirtbag #1 wants to buy a gun from dirtbag #2 while meeting at their favorite drug house, by what method do you propose they conduct the background check?

      The vast majority of firearms used in crime are stolen, that’s why we call them criminals. They do not walk into a licensed gun store and fill out a BATF&E 4473 form, and submit to the NICS check. The law abiding citizens are the only ones who obey your gun laws, and the bad guys and gals scoff at your laws.

    • Give Me Freedom November 25, 2020, 10:52 am

      I agree with most of your stance on the 2nd Amendment but disagree that every firearm transfer should go through a background check. If I wish to lend or give a firearm to a neighbor I have known for years to protect his family during hazardous times why should we both become criminals?

      The people who are for tyranny will also use Universal Background checks to register all the citizen’s guns across America. They will then attempt to confiscate them in the future.

      We do not need anymore restrictions on the 2nd Amendment.

    • MGNick November 28, 2020, 5:39 pm

      Biden hasn’t been elected yet and it looks like as the days wear on, he may never be. Way too much voter fraud. That is the card they had to play to defeat Trump. Re: The Communist overplayed their hand and got caught.

  • JonsOn November 23, 2020, 10:40 am

    It’s not the county ordinances that anyone should worry about standing up in court it’s the draconian state laws that shouldn’t hold up in court and should be deemed unconstitutional. These days it seems that there are a lot of things that democrat controlled states are doing that are unconstitutional: lockdowns, curfews and anti-2nd amendment laws.

  • Wally November 23, 2020, 7:18 am

    This has to be one of the dumbest “ordinances” ever passed by any governing body. If I was a law enforcement officer in one of these two counties, I would resign. Can anyone imagine what we would have with a patch work of laws from county to county??? Irresponsible legislation at its best and will be struck down by higher courts. Dumb and stupid certainly got together on this one.

  • Patrick November 23, 2020, 3:29 am

    I actually live in umatilla county. Everyone I know is a carrier. Most of the people they know carry. I myself am a security guard and I work alone. I carry from the moment I wake up to the moment I lay down. This law matters to many who value our right to protect ourself and others. Its a good thing to see this happen but legally standing I wouldnt push it myself. I voted for it myself and hope to see it adopted further elsewhere. To many pansies out there making choices for others when they have no knowledge at all about what they speak of. Let the rural folks speak. We speak from our experiences not from opinion.

  • Brian November 21, 2020, 9:54 am

    Its about time somebody has some balls. I’ve never seen a gun law prevent a crime anyway.

    Scenario

    Asswipe sr. Hey Bob we gotta go kill Jimbo

    Asswipe jr. But Bob we can’t buy guns because we are prohibited.

    Asswipe sr. Yeah your right I guess we won’t kill jimbo because we can’t break a gun law

    I think that’s how gun laws work. I’m not sure though

    ( Sarcasm if you don’t get it)

  • John Boutwell November 20, 2020, 1:16 pm

    The closer the left gets to communism in its goals the more real Americans will have to take a real stand and fight back against their tyranny.

    • Boz November 20, 2020, 1:34 pm

      You are absolutely correct.

      • Frank November 22, 2020, 9:57 am

        YES!! The time for talk and debate is all but over. Prepare to STAND!

  • David Rogers November 20, 2020, 8:30 am

    I am curious if state government officials take an oath to defend ONLY the state constitution or the federal one.

    The pathway for these two counties seems clear to me. Via the 2nd amendment tied to the 14th amendment, the right PROTECTED by the 2nd may not be violated even in a minor way.

    Via the US Constitutions Supremecy clause, the federal constitution is the supreme law of the land as well as laws PURSUING the owning and carrying of firearms. And judges in all the states are bound by it.

    So anybody, including judges working against enforcing the supreme law of the land should be open to multi-billion dollar lawsuits as well as other sanctions.

  • James Smith November 20, 2020, 8:13 am

    Not sure why any claim these ordinances have no teeth . All they have to do is frame them as enforcing the Constition’s 2nd amendment , as the “infringing” restrictions are Unconstitutional. PERIOD. Much less government defunding police , means You can also justify that L E has limited resources & are focusing on ACTUAL crime. Not on the ” I am personally offended that so&so has a black rifle , or carries a pistol … I don’t like it/feel unsafe ” nonsense /BS !!! Can i get an Amen ?!

    • David Rogers November 20, 2020, 8:38 am

      Amen. Exactly. Pretty straight forward to me. The idea that liberty is hard defend is brought forth by politicians and lawyers. Make it way too expensive to violate the Constitution. Just need city officials and county commissioners with some constitutional gonads willing to take a stand and make sanctions stiff for violators.

    • OldTimer November 22, 2020, 1:27 pm

      While I really like the concept of these ordinances, there are a few reasons why they are likely unenforceable. First, local jurisdictions cannot supersede state laws with their own ordinances, without explicit authority of the state (which I’m sure they don’t have), just as the Supremacy Clause suggests states can’t override Federal drug and immigration laws (the reason that we all agree sanctuary states and cities are unlawful). What’s good for the goose….

      Second, as others have alluded, without a legislative requirement to enforce a law, all officers have discretion to enforce or not to enforce. They take an oath to uphold the Constitution of their state/commonwealth and the US constitution. They must be allowed to enforce the enacted statutes. The solution is NOT for smaller political subdivisions (states in the case of drug and immigration laws, counties in this instant case) to stick their thumbs up to their ears and go “nah nah nah nah nah”. They should either organize a campaign to oust offending legislators, or vote with their feet and move
      to a jurisdiction that is like-minded.

    • michael smith November 23, 2020, 5:54 pm

      I’d sure like to see something happen like this in E. WA. They passed legal recreational marijuana, so why do we even have to pass laws to maintain the 2nd amendment.

  • Jay Franks November 20, 2020, 5:25 am

    Nice to see people fighting back against the California virus.

  • James Edward McLain November 20, 2020, 12:57 am

    Do as Alaska did and modify your state constitution to guarantee individual rights to keep and bear arms. This generally removes any requirements regarding the need for concealed carry permit. Alaska has done quite well without the old licensing requirement. Alaskans have gotten out of the habit. We trust our citizens up north. Besides, fewer Californians would choose to move north if they suspected Oregonians would would, in the right circumstances,

    J. McLain

    • vab November 23, 2020, 8:42 am

      “The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose.” —Wisconsin Constitutional Provision Article I, Section 25: Right to keep and bear arms.

      This amendment was added in 1998. Legal doctrine, however, declares that it is NOT an absolute right and that the government can place “reasonable” restrictions on the right. We all know that such doctrine is BS. In my mind, ALL of our rights are absolute and no governmental body or agency has the authority to place any restrictions on them.

      If someone is too mentally ill to have a gun, then that person should be confined to a mental hospital. If someone is too violent to have a gun, then that person should be locked up away from society. And so forth.

      So our amendment didn’t go far enough in this modern world of exact words. It lacked the words “and no law attempting to, whether in fact or theory, restrict bearable arms ownership or lawful use is valid.” Or something to that effect.

  • James Edward McLain November 20, 2020, 12:46 am

    Do as Alaska did and modify your state constitution to guarantee individual rights to keep and bear arms. This generally removes any requirements regarding the need for concealed carry permit. Alaska has done quite well withoutbthe old licensing requirement. Alaskans have gotten out of the habit quite well.

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