Deschutes County residents could vote on a ballot measure in November to prohibit the county from enforcing gun laws. Sponsors of an initiative petition called the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance will begin collecting signatures to place it on the ballot. (See a version of the petition at the bottom of this post.)
The proposed measure would broadly re-interpret the U.S. and Oregon Constitutions’ right to bear arms and add “ancillary firearms rights."
The Deschutes County sheriff would decide whether any local, state or federal gun law is unconstitutional under the measure’s broader interpretations of those rights. And if the sheriff thinks a law is unconstitutional, the measure would forbid the county from enforcing it. Individual violations could result in a fine of up to $2,000.
The measure defines ancillary firearms rights as “rights that are closely related to the right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment; including the right to manufacture, transfer, buy and sell firearms, firearm accessories and ammunition.”
The Deschutes County version of the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance is somewhat vague on the specifics, but a version already adopted in other Oregon counties was clearer.
In 2015, Coos County voted 61 percent to 39 percent to adopt a similar measure. The same year, the Wheeler County Court unanimously adopted one without even going to voters. Those counties’ versions explain that laws regulating semi-automatic weapons, assault style firearms, magazine size, ammunition types and modifications such as bump stocks are all unenforceable in the counties. They also remove background check requirements for private and Internet sales.
Four Redmond residents are sponsoring the petition, including chief petitioner Jerrad Robison and B.J Soper, who is involved with the Pacific Patriots Network and Oregon Oath Keepers.
Supporters plan to submit the same initiative in counties across Oregon.
If it makes the ballot, the measure could compete with a statewide ballot initiative to forbid sales and transfers of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines that will soon begin collecting signatures.
Supporters of the Deschutes County Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance must collect 4,144 verified signatures by Aug. 6 to place the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Gun rights advocates will hold a “Second Amendment Rally” at Redmond City Hall on Saturday, April 21 starting at 11 a.m.
We’ll update this story as we learn more.
Editor's note: This story has been altered from the original version, to add the name of Jerrad Robison and remove the name of a person who has been removed from the Deschutes County petition.