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Oregon’s new gun laws remain blocked, won’t go into effect early Thursday


Ballot Measure 114 will not become law at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 8.

The Oregon Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a state Department of Justice petition asking the court to throw out a lower court’s temporary restraining order blocking the law from taking effect.

Harney County Circuit Court Judge Robert Raschio issued the order Tuesday, saying the law violated the Oregon state constitution’s right to bear arms. Raschio said Oregonians would be “unable to lawfully purchase a firearm or bear a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition in the State of Oregon.”

His order is temporary to allow time for a more careful hearing scheduled for next week.

A file photo of the Oregon Supreme Court in Salem, Ore., May 19, 2021.

A file photo of the Oregon Supreme Court in Salem, Ore., May 19, 2021.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

Voters approved Measure 114 in November. It would ban the manufacture, purchase or sale of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It also requires people take a safety course and pass a background check to get a permit allowing them to purchase a firearm.

The law closes the so-called “Charleston Loophole,” a gap in federal law that allows firearms to be transferred to a person after three days if a background check is not complete. If enacted, the new law would require a completed background check before a firearm can be transferred.

On Wednesday morning, state Justice Department lawyers filed a petition asking the Oregon Supreme Court to review the Harney County ruling and vacate the lower court’s decision.

“The people of Oregon enacted Measure 114 to prevent ‘horrific deaths and devastating injuries due to mass shootings, homicides and suicides,’” the state wrote in its motion to halt the circuit court’s proceedings. “Doing so fell well within the wide latitude provided by Article I, section 27, which, as this Court has repeatedly indicated, allows the people to take such reasonable measures to protect and promote public safety.”

In response, lawyers for the gun rights group Gun Owners of America and the other plaintiffs said these new provisions present “several novel legal questions under Oregon law, the legality of which should be determined through the usual procedures including the development of a full and complete record in circuit court, an appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals and, if this Court agrees to hear the case, a decision by this Court.”

Gun Owners of America positions itself as a “no compromise” gun rights organization and criticizes the National Rifle Association for being too soft on gun issues.

The end-of-day order from the state Supreme Court allowing the lower court’s ruling to stand, briefly closes out a flurry of legal activity in the days leading up to the Dec. 8 deadline when the law was slated to go into effect. Hours before Raschio’s order came down, a federal judge had denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have blocked the law. The federal judge eventually applied that ruling to all four federal lawsuits challenging the new restrictions.

None of this week’s decisions are final. In federal court, U.S. District Court Judge Karin Immergut plans to hear arguments on whether to grant a preliminary injunction against the new law.

In state court, Raschio has scheduled more in depth arguments for Dec. 13 to consider a preliminary injunction against the law.