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Oregon Measure 114 temporarily blocked by Harney County judge

A Harney County judge blocked Oregon gun control Measure 114 from taking effect Tuesday, after a federal judge had ruled earlier in the day that the measure could go forward. [123rf.com]

A Harney County judge Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order against all provisions of Oregon’s gun control Measure 114.

Harney County Circuit Judge Robert S. Raschio’s order came three hours after a federal judge allowed the measure to take effect as planned with a 30-day delay in the provision that requires a permit to buy a gun.

The Harney County case was brought by Gun Owners of America, and unlike the federal case, challenged Measure 114 under Oregon’s constitution.

While there has been “relentless news about mass shootings and slaughter of innocents,” Raschio said the Gun Owners of America had shown that putting Measure 114 on hold will maintain the “status quo” until the court can determine in a hearing for a preliminary injunction whether the measure meets constitutional muster under Article 1, Sec. 27 of the Oregon Constitution.

That article says, “The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence [sic] of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power[.]”

The county judge found that the public interest weighs against the measure’s implementation at this time, and set a hearing for Dec. 13 on a preliminary injunction.

“With implementation, there are serious harms to the public interest as well, which could include individuals being arrested and prosecuted for Class A misdemeanors under what could be found to be an unconstitutional statutory scheme,” Raschio ruled from the bench. “And that potential could happen if Ballot Measure 114 is allowed to go into effect without significant judicial scrutiny. And, certainly no one would argue that individual liberty is not a cornerstone of our country. First the people, then the state.”

Senior Assistant Attorney General Brian Simmonds Marshall urged Raschio to put a hold on his temporary order, but Raschio refused, saying it would bar Measure 114′s gun control limits as of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

The measure calls for a permit to buy a gun; ban on the sale, transfer and manufacture of magazines holding more than 10 rounds and requires a background check to be completed before any sale or transfer of a gun can occur.

The attorney general’s office will petition for higher court review of the decision, said Kristina Edmunson, a spokesperson for Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

“We are still sorting through everything, but I can tell you we will be shortly filing a mandamus petition asking the Oregon Supreme Court to review it immediately,” Edmunson said.

Raschio, in contrast to the federal judge’s ruling in a separate challenge, found that guns with more than 10 rounds existed when the Oregon Constitution was drafted in 1857 and when the constitution was adopted in 1859. He also found that magazines are not separate or distinct from “arms,” which are protected by the Oregon Constitution.

“The plaintiffs are persuasive that magazines are protected by the Oregon constitution, and firearms containing fixed magazines that can hold 10 bullets or more are in common use within Oregon,” Raschio said in his ruling from the bench.

The Rev. Mark Knutson, one of the chief petitioners of Measure 114 from the interfaith group Lift Every Voice Oregon, said the group had drafted a press release and was ready to put it out applauding U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut’s ruling from earlier Tuesday morning allowing the ban on large-capacity magazines to go into effect and then got word later in the morning about the Harney County judge’s decision.

“We’re huddling again to take a look. We’re all waiting to learn what happens next,” Knutson said.