LINN COUNTY, Ore. — Oregon voters appear poised to pass a new gun control measure, but Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan has already pledged not to enforce at least part of the new law.
Measure 114 would ban magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds and require a police-issued, five-year permit for all gun purchases. The permitting process would include firearms training and a federal background check.
In a message posted to the Linn County Sheriff's Office Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, Duncan described Measure 114 as "poorly written" and "a terrible law for gunowners, crime victims, and public safety."
"I want to send a clear message to Linn County residents that the Linn County Sheriff’s Office is NOT going to be enforcing magazine capacity limits," she wrote.
Duncan's message was less clear about whether she would ultimately enforce the permitting portion of the law, stating that "there is still a lot that needs to be sorted out regarding the permitting process, who has to do the training and what exactly does the training have to cover."
She said she would work with other law enforcement agencies, elected officials and community members to figure out "the best course of action to take on permitting."
"I want to ensure anything we do or don’t do will not hinder gunowners’ rights to purchase firearms, intentionally or unintentionally," she wrote.
She added that she hoped that the measure's passage would result in an immediate lawsuit against it.
Duncan, who is winning re-election by a wide margin, had support from most everyone KGW visited with in Albany on Thursday.
"I think in our Second Amendment right we have a right to purchase what we want to purchase and so I agree and I voted for her and I’m thankful she feels that way," said Ashley Cowgill.
Jack Sparks said he is a gun owner and is in Duncan's camp, but feels more ambiguous about the sheriff's decision. "I mean, on one hand I voted against the measure — on the other hand I voted for her to enforce the law and she’s saying she’s not going to enforce that law."
Duncan is far from the only Oregon sheriff to speak out forcefully against Measure 114, and now another sheriff is also saying he won't fully enforce the measure when it's enacted. Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen made a statement on his agency's Facebook page, supporting Duncan and saying he also would not follow Measure 114.
Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler and Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber have each stated that they believe Measure 114 to be unconstitutional, and Kaber added that he expects the measure to be challenged in court and prevented from taking effect while the case plays out.
Oregon State Sheriffs' Association general counsel Elmer Dickens wrote in the Fall 2022 issue of the association's quarterly publication that he believed the high-capacity magazine ban to be unconstitutional, citing a court case regarding a similar ban in California.
Earlier gun control efforts have been met with similar resistance in Oregon. A previous Linn County Sheriff, Tim Mueller, sent a letter in 2013 to then-Vice President Joe Biden stating that he would not enforce any new federal gun control measures that his department viewed as unconstitutional. The Crook County Sheriff at the time, Jim Hensley, said he'd sent the same letter.
More recently, Columbia and Umatilla counties both passed "Second Amendment Sanctuary" measures that prevent county officials, including sheriff's office employees, from enforcing most state and federal gun regulations, although the constitutionality of such ordinances is unclear.