Oregon Gun Law Ruling Deemed ‘Unconstitutional’ is Turning “Legal Standards on Their Head”

By: Ben Campbell | Last updated: Jul 08, 2024

A Harney County Judge from the state of Oregon has issued a permanent injunction against the highly controversial Measure 114. This measure aims to implement a limitation on the capacity of ammunition magazines, among other stronger gun laws.

For the past several years, the decision has been at the center of a heated debate, with a significant portion of the state’s population contesting its constitutionality, making it a topic of significant interest and engagement. 

Measure 114

In November 2022, Oregon voters narrowly passed Measure 114, which aimed to strengthen several gun laws in the state. 

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Around 50.7% of the region voted in favor of the measure, which requires residents to acquire a permit should they wish to purchase a weapon. It also prohibits the sale of ammunition magazines that hold ten or more rounds in many circumstances. 

Law Struggles to Pass

Despite Measure 114 narrowly passing in 2022, it has yet to go into effect due to public outcry, which has brought with it several state and federal challenges. 

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Prominent Harney County Judge Robert Raschio has voiced concern about the law and successfully prevented it from passing after suggesting that certain aspects of the measure are unconstitutional. 

Oregonians Have a Right to Self Defence, Says Judge

Voters from Harney Count expressed opposition to the bill, with as many as 85% voting against its implementation. Judge Raschio then issued an emergency injection, which delayed Measure 114 from going into effect. 

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“Oregon citizens have a right to self-defense against an imminent threat of harm, which is unduly burdened by Ballot Measure 114,” Raschio wrote.

Judge Raschio Unhappy With Stipulations of Proposed Measure

According to Judge Raschio, one major problem with the proposed measure is that residents of Oregon could have to wait at least 30 days to purchase a firearm. 

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The proposed permit-to-purchase program “mimics the concealed handgun license scheme, reducing the right to bear arms to an unduly burdensome administrative due process right,” said Raschio

FBI Background Checks Would Stall Weapon Permits

Raschio continued by suggesting that a lack of FBI background checks would only further stall the permit process, thereby placing a further burden on Oregonians’ right to bear arms.  

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“The parties have stipulated that the Federal Bureau of Investigations will not conduct background checks on applicants who apply for a permit-to-purchase a firearm,” Raschio wrote. “The defendants invite the court to assume that the permits will be issued anyhow. The defendants provide no evidence on why that assumption would be true.”

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Large Magazines Protected Under Constitution

In reference to the state’s attempt to ban large ammunition magazines, Judge Raschio argued that they are protected under Article 1, Section 27 of Oregon’s Constitution, and therefore, any attempt to remove them would be in violation of the Constitution. 

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“There is no historical basis for limiting the size and capacity of firearms, including their magazines,” Raschio wrote. He later added that “firearm technology at the founding of the state is the foundation for the current firearm technology.”

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Court of Appeals Refuses States Motion

In April, the Oregon Court of Appeals refused to entertain the state’s motion to place a hold on Judge Raschios’s ruling.

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The state of Oregon later appealed the ruling in February, arguing that Measure 114 was set into place to save lives. “The Harney County judge’s ruling is wrong,” said state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “Worse, it needlessly puts Oregonians’ lives at risk. The state will file an appeal, and we believe we will prevail.”

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State Appeals the Ruling

According to Rosenblum, “Research indicates that mass shootings and gun violence have decreased in other states after adopting permit requirements and magazine restrictions. 

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She continued, “We are making a very reasonable request:  Let Measure 114 take effect now so Oregonians’ lives can be saved—now!”

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Raschio Dismisses the Claims of Bill’s Proponents

Raschio later tried to dismiss these claims put forth by the proponents of the new measure, writing, “The advocates for Ballot Measure 114 argue in the preamble and in the voters’ guide that a restraint on the amount of ammunition as the key to preventing mass shootings.”

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He continued, “Nothing in the preamble, the voters’ guide, nor the defendants’ evidence provide a rationale for why the rounds should be limited to ten as opposed to any other arbitrary numbers that could have been picked, nor did they show the limitation of ten rounds has any demonstratable effect on negative outcomes to mass shooting events.”

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Huge Win For Gun Owners

Plaintiffs in the Harney County suit include Joseph Arnold, Cliff Asmussen, Gun Owners of America, Inc., and the Gun Owners Foundation, all of whom have all stood firm beside Raschio over the past two years. 

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Following the decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals, the Gun Owners Foundation took to X to celebrate the win, writing, “a huge win in strong anti-gun territory.”

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Raschio and Oregon Gun Owners Win For Now

Thanks to the work of Judge Raschio and his associates, Measure 114 will not be in effect for now. 

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While the proposed guns laws remain highly controversial, Oregonians will have to wait a little longer until the court makes its final decision on whether to pass Measure 114.  

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