The Oregon Supreme Court has denied a petition to overturn a lower court ruling blocking the state’s new gun laws from taking effect. Ballot Measure 114′s provisions remain blocked in their entirety pending a lower court hearing on the measure’s constitutionality.
“We recognize that the legal status of Measure 114 is of significant concern to many Oregonians,” the justices wrote in their order. “Of course, it is the role of the judicial branch of government to resolve disputes such as challenges to laws enacted by the legislative branch, which includes the people exercising their initiative power.”
But the justices concluded it is not appropriate for them to become involved when the dispute is still being addressed through the trial court.
It is the second time the state Supreme Court has declined to get involved in the proceedings.
Measure 114 passed in November by a hair, carried by voters in the state’s urban centers. The new law, if it is allowed to take effect, will require anyone purchasing a firearm to first take a gun safety course and obtain a permit. It also bans magazines holding more than 10 rounds and closes the so-called Charleston loophole, the federal law which allows a firearms transfer to go forward if a background check is not completed after three days.
Measure 114 faced legal challenges immediately after passing. Four cases pending in federal court have consolidated into one. In that case, U.S. District Court Judge Karin Immergut said the law could take effect until she could hear more detailed arguments. She allowed the state to postpone implementing the permit requirement until the systems needed to administer it were in place. Immergut will hear three days of testimony at the end of February.
The case before the state Supreme Court arose out of a lawsuit filed by Gun Owners of America — a gun rights group critical of the NRA for being too soft on Second Amendment issues — and two Harney County residents in the circuit court of Harney and Grant counties. In a Dec. 6 temporary restraining order, Circuit Court Judge Robert Raschio blocked Measure 114′s provisions from taking effect.
The Oregon Department of Justice immediately appealed to the state Supreme Court asking for Raschio’s order to be overturned. Hours before Measure 114 was supposed to take effect, the justices declined to consider the appeal.
Days later, Raschio extended his order.
“Plaintiffs show implementation of BM 114 would … cause an irreparable harm to gun owners and those seeking to purchase firearms for self-defense,” Raschio wrote in a Dec. 15 order granting a preliminary injunction. “Any deprivation of a constitutional right, even temporarily, constitutes an irreparable injury.”
In a tweet Thursday morning responding to the Supreme Court’s order, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she was disappointed their request was denied.
“We intend to continue to defend the law zealously in the Harney County court,” Roseblum wrote. “My office takes the position the law passed by Oregonians last November is totally proper and legal under the U.S. and Oregon constitutions.”
After Thursday’s ruling, the law will remain blocked until Raschio schedules a more in-depth hearing on the matter. Though, the Supreme Court said their decision Thursday does not preclude a future challenge.