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Sheriff, others file suit to block new gun restrictions

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Oregon Capital Bureau

Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey on Friday filed a federal lawsuit to prevent voter-approved firearm restrictions from taking effect.

Lohrey was joined in the Nov. 19 filing by the Oregon Firearms Federation and Adam Johnson, a Marion County gun store owner.

The suit was filed in the Pendleton Division of the U.S. District Court for the state of Oregon. It contends the ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds violates their Second Amendment right to bear arms and right to due process.

Ballot Measure 114 was approved by a margin of 51% to 49% at the Nov. 8 election and is scheduled to take effect Dec. 8. It also would require a permit to buy a gun and will close the so-called “Charleston loophole” by requiring a criminal background check be completed before a gun sale or transfer can occur.

The role of the sheriff in the lawsuit is not a surprise. As previously reported, many sheriffs across the state oppose the new restrictions in the measure and say they will not enforce them.

Even statements from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Deschutes County sheriff were more about evaluating the measure, rather than a straight “yes,” when asked if the new law will be enforced.

In response to a question  about whether incumbent Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese or incoming Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell will enforce Measure 114, sheriff’s spokesperson Christina Kempster would only say, “The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is evaluating how Measure 114 may impact operations. We will be working with lawmakers, key stakeholders and our public safety partners to determine how to best implement a system that meets the requirements of Measure 114.”

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson said in a statement that enforcement of Measure 114 would not be a priority for his office. Other rural Oregon sheriffs, including Jefferson County Sheriff Jason Pollack, have said they would not enforce the law. 

“Banning magazines over 10 rounds is no more likely to reduce criminal abuse of guns than banning high horsepower engines is likely to reduce criminal abuse of automobiles,” the lawsuit reads in part.

“To the contrary, the only thing the ban contained in 114 ensures is that a criminal unlawfully carrying a firearm with a magazine over 10 rounds will have a potentially devastating advantage over his law-abiding victim,” it continues.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has vowed to defend the measure against lawsuits.

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