Three Oregon Sheriffs Say They Will Not Enforce Measure 114

The new gun control law appears headed to passage.

Sheriffs in at least three rural Oregon counties say they will not enforce Measure 114, the gun control law that appears to have been narrowly approved by state voters in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Their pledge comes even after the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association told state officials this summer that it expected its members to uphold any law created by popular vote.

The law bans the sale of gun magazines holding more than 10 rounds and will require gun buyers to obtain safety training and a permit. It it is supposed go into effect 30 days after election day, but The Oregonian reported this morning that several gun rights groups are preparing legal challenges.

“The Linn County Sheriff’s Office is NOT going to be enforcing magazine capacity limits,” wrote the county’s Sheriff Michelle Duncan in a post on Facebook on Wednesday.

“I agree 100% with Sheriff Duncan,” wrote Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen on Facebook. “This is an infringement on our constitutional rights and will not be enforced by my office!”

Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey is following suit. “Per [the sheriff’s] direction our office would not enforce Measure 114,” Undersheriff James Burgett confirmed to WW in an email on Friday.

Many Oregon sheriffs came out against Measure 114 prior to Election Day. (As elected officials, sheriffs can legally engage in political activity.) The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association came out against the measure early on, arguing in a statement of opposition published in the state Voters’ Pamphlet that the measure “violates current federal case law and the U.S. Constitution.”

And now, some sheriffs are explicitly stating they will not enforce the law.

This isn’t the first time Oregon sheriffs have openly defied gun control legislation. In 2013, Linn County’s sheriff at the time, Tim Mueller, sent a letter to then-Vice President Joe Biden saying that he wouldn’t enforce any federal gun control laws. Seven other Oregon sheriffs made similar statements.

But there were signs that attitudes had changed.

“I think we have made a concerted effort to have a good relationship with all the legislators,” the head of the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, John Bishop, told Oregon Public Broadcasting in 2019. “Going in and beating heads and saying, ‘You’re stupid and we’re not going to do this,’ doesn’t work anymore.”

And in response to a July grilling by state officials about the OSSA’s projected financial impact of Measure 114, which assumed the law would be implemented in all 36 Oregon counties, the association responded: “We are not aware of any Sheriff refusing to obey a statutory mandate enacted by the Legislature (or vote of the people).”

“All Sheriffs are sworn to uphold the law,” the statement goes on.

This story has been corrected. The law goes into effect 30 days after election day, not 30 days after the vote is certified.