Gun Control Measures: Sheriff Tim Svenson of Yamhill County is one of many Oregon law enforcement officials who has spoken out against the success of Measure 114, a citizen-led gun control initiative, in November’s general election.
In this case, though, his disagreement with a central principle of the law is distinct from that of the sheriffs who have vowed not to enforce the controversial measure at all.
He replied in an email, “It is not a problem of enforcement, it is a matter of capability.” I simply do not have the manpower at my disposal to go around “hunting” down anybody who breaks the new magazine restriction.
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Sheriff Claims County Lacks the Manpower to Implement Gun Control Measures
Ultimately, the choice on whether to enforce the measure would be left to deputies in the field, Svenson added.
He explained that his officers would use their own judgment when deciding whether or not to issue a citation to a suspect who was in possession of a large-capacity magazine during the commission of a crime. “As in the past, it will be in the discretion of the deputy to decide which legislation to cite.”
Svenson has stated that he will focus his team’s efforts elsewhere.
Instead, he said, “my staff will be devoting their efforts to other public safety issues inside the county,” referencing the private transfer background requirement law from a few years ago. He pledged to keep working with law enforcement agencies around the state to find a way to simplify the permit system so that law-abiding residents may buy firearms without interference.
Svenson and many of his collaborators in the sheriff community did not endorse the measure, which failed in roughly three-quarters of the counties in the state.
“I did not back it,” he stated. “I do not support the legislation because it violates a recent U.S. Supreme Court rule on the Second Amendment and unfairly regulates law-abiding persons,” she said.
According to Svenson, the initiative is doomed to fail and will not reduce gun crime in Oregon.
He said, “I do not believe it will.” “People who conduct crimes with guns do not respect the laws that we already have on the books. They disregard this rule of law.”
In any case, the bill’s chances of becoming law in January are dim, and that’s before the vote is even counted. Together, an Oregon sheriff from eastern Oregon and a Marion County gun shop owner has filed a federal lawsuit to block the magazine restriction from going into effect.
The plaintiffs contend that the ban violates their Second Amendment rights to bear arms. We anticipate additional litigation.
Svenson has expressed doubt that the provision will be upheld in court and that the law can be amended to be more equitable to gun owners.
‘I don’t believe it will pass judicial muster,’ he said. However, if it does happen, my recommendation is to begin again.
“Enforce the rules we presently have on the books and hold those offenders accountable for their crimes,” Svenson added as a final solution to reducing gun violence.
The main idea behind the law is to make it more difficult for persons who want to commit suicide to get their hands on guns (nearly three-quarters of the gun deaths in the United States are via suicide).
Nonetheless, Svenson argued that the measure would do little to counteract the tendency and instead misplaces the emphasis.
“There is currently a mechanism in place that necessitates background (checks) for the purchase of a gun,” he said, adding, “in my experience, people who are seeking to harm themselves do not go out and buy weapons.”
“Community members going through tough times would benefit greatly from increased funding for available counseling programs. The use of force by the police is not the solution to all social problems. The issue cannot be solved with additional legislation.”
To what end is measuring put to use?
Permits can be obtained through local sheriff’s departments for $65 and require the completion of a firearms safety course. All applicants must also produce a photo ID, get fingerprinted, and pass a criminal background check.
How the system will be funded or handled by the state has not yet been worked out, although it may be comparable to the current process gun owners must go through to acquire a concealed carry permit, which is also overseen by sheriff’s offices.
High-capacity magazines cannot be sold by federally licensed weapons dealers after December 8 if the new rule goes into effect as planned. Violators face a Class A misdemeanor and possible revocation of their license.
There is a 180-day window during which a shop may sell or transfer inventory to an out-of-state buyer. Selling or distributing restricted magazines to the general public will likewise be illegal.
Authorities in the state are being overwhelmed by requests for criminal records checks.
Soon after the measure was adopted, the Oregon State Police released an advisory saying that it was consulting with the Oregon Department of Justice, the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police to figure out how to implement the measure in light of the increased responsibility it was receiving for conducting background checks on people seeking to legally purchase firearms in the state.
In the wake of the measure’s passage, there has been a surge in requests for background checks by the OSP, which have increased by roughly a factor of five. A total of 418,061 checks were written in 2020; as of March 31, over 280,552 requests had been made, with “many more expected,” according to a press release.
The majority of petitions submitted to the OSP Firearms Instant Check System (FICS) section in November were granted, according to the announcement. “An OSP employee must review the remaining transactions to find the root reason for the automated system’s rejection of the customer. Approval of the application is possible after a manual correction, if necessary.”
Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the OSP is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week to conduct background checks. People who have been arrested or convicted of a crime in Oregon or any other state; people who have provided inaccurate or incomplete information on the federal form are required to apply for a background check.
People whose addresses on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles do not match the addresses provided on the federal form are just some of the examples given by OSP officials as reasons why an individual might fail a background check through the automated process.
The sheriff of Marion County has an opinion on the new law.
The city of St. Paul is in northern Marion County, and its sheriff, Joe Kast, made a public statement when the legislation was passed.
To better understand the measures to be implemented under Measure 114 and the services we are required to offer at the local law enforcement level, “we are actively working with the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and Marion County legal counsel,” he said. “As with any new legislation, we will make every effort to understand the requirements, design systems and procedures to comply with mandated provisions, and keep a close eye on any prospective litigation to ensure we are abiding with current case law.”
Kast said that there is more work to be done to implement the referendum if the proposal survives judicial challenges.
We know there will be lawsuits challenging parts of the policy, and those cases won’t be settled before the law goes into effect. “We still need to be prepared to assist the inhabitants of Marion County with a pathway to lawfully acquire firearms in the state of Oregon,” the statement reads.
But as other sheriffs have made clear, that route will not involve the search for high-capacity magazine holders by law enforcement.
As a result of Measure 114, he stated, “we anticipate severe demand on our limited manpower and resources.” We will no longer be conducting investigations into magazine capacity issues because our resources must be reallocated to meet the growing demands of Marion County’s citizens and visitors.
Not just controversial gun laws
Yamhill County has been in conflict with the state on the topic of gun rights previously this year as well. A circuit court judge in Yamhill County, Oregon, deemed the county’s Second Amendment sanctuary rule unconstitutional in July.
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County employees, including the sheriff’s office, were banned by Ordinance 913, which was adopted by the commission in April 2021. Any other “outside” agency outside the state or county. A lawsuit was filed by the state, and they eventually won.
Yamhill County Circuit Judge Ladd Wiles ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional and declared it null and void in its entirety.
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