(Update: Adding statement by Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson)
Bend police chief, council to discuss impact; gun shops report rise in sales
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon voters have narrowly passed measures that would strengthen gun laws and mandate health care as a human right, The Associated Press reported Monday night, six days after the polls closed. But Measure 114 is prompting a growing number of sheriffs to say they won't enforce it.
Measure 114 requires residents to obtain a permit to purchase a gun, bans large-capacity magazines over 10 rounds except in some circumstances and creates a statewide firearms database.
To qualify for a permit, an applicant would need to complete an approved, in-person firearm safety course, pay a fee, provide personal information, submit to fingerprinting and photographing and pass a federal criminal background check. The permits would be processed by local police chiefs, county sheriffs or their designees.
The ban on large-capacity magazines would not apply to current owners, law enforcement or the military.
Proponents of the measure say it would reduce suicides — which account for 82% of gun deaths in the state — mass shootings and other gun violence.
Opponents, including the left-wing Socialist Rifle Association, say it would infringe on constitutionally protected rights and could reduce gun access among marginalized communities and people of color if law enforcement agencies are the arbiters of the permitting process. They also say permitting fees and the cost of the firearms course could also be barriers to access.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jason Pollock, in a post Sunday to the agency's Facebook page, said, "I believe Measure 114 is a violation of the United States Constitution and is contrary to current federal court precedent.
"I have read this measure. It is poorly written and does not actually address the current criminal crisis our state currently faces," Pollock wrote, which he blamed on "the leftist elements in Salem (who) have failed to hold criminals accountable for their behavior."
"The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office will not enforce Measure 114," he wrote. "I do not have the personnel to attempt to permit every gun purchase in Jefferson County. Additionally, I believe the provisions of Measure 114 run contrary to previously decided judicial decisions."
Crook County Sheriff John Gautney also issued a statement Monday on Measure 114, saying that he "was and continue to be adamantly opposed to this ill-conceived attempt to restrict our right to legal firearm ownership."
Gautney said he expects it to be challenged in court "and I believe that will happen very soon, if not already underway." But he did not say he would refuse to enforce the measure, if implemented, instead saying that due to lack of funding, "violations of BM 114 will be handled with discretion, as this will fall within our lower priority calls."
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson posted this similar statement Wednesday to the agency's Facebook page:
"After the passage of Measure 114, I continue to have concerns over the constitutionality of the measure and I know this measure’s constitutionality will be determined by the courts. We are developing plans to implement Measure 114 firearm permit process. Our office is like any other law enforcement agency in that we are having a difficult time finding deputy sheriffs to fill our ranks.
"Given our limited law enforcement resources, our response to violations of measure 114 will not be a priority for our office. Individuals with extreme mental health challenges continue to be the ones behind mass violence tragedies. I encourage everyone to report anything of concern that would lead someone to believe an individual is contemplating harming themselves or others. For a list of some commonly missed signs and pre-attack behaviors go to https://preventmassshootingsnow.org/ The Sheriff’s Office will continue to use education and discretion as tools to enforce the law."
Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz told NewsChannel 21 Tuesday in a statement:
“The Bend Police Department is working with city staff to assess the impact that Measure 114 would have on the department and its resources. The subject will be discussed at Wednesday’s city council meeting.”
NewsChannel 21 also spoke Tuesday with a few Bend gun store employees, who say guns sales have gone up recently.
One manager says there is more than 12,000 background checks in queue, for people waiting to buy guns.
The health care proposal, Measure 111, makes Oregon the first state in the nation to change its Constitution to explicitly declare affordable health care a fundamental human right.
The amendment reads: “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.”
It does not define “cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable,” nor does it say who would foot the bill.
The Oregon Health Authority says 94% of Oregonians currently have insurance coverage and more are eligible for the Oregon Medicaid plan or a subsidy to reduce the cost of commercial insurance.
Opponents have said the amendment could trigger legal and political challenges if it passes.