Gun measure: The devil’s in the details
Last updated 10/25/2022 at Noon
Measure 114 may seem to some folks like a reasonable effort to quell the violence we’ve all seen play out across the country — and right here in Central Oregon.
The measure creates a permit-to-purchase system that is built to fail, imposing an unfunded administrative burden on law enforcement that will cost local departments significantly, and take resources away from actual public safety work. And it leaves legitimate, law-abiding gun purchasers high and dry, mandating training that it makes no provision to provide or even to make accessible, creating a redundant system of background checks, and setting no time frame for the processing of permits. It could take months or years to obtain a permit.
The way Measure 114 is constructed leads some gun owners to believe that it is intentionally crafted to wield bureaucracy to throttle their rights. Creating laws that are impossible to comply with is wrong, and further erodes the already threadbare belief in the good faith of our institutions.
Sheriff Shane Nelson told The Nugget that he is opposed to Measure 114. So are many other sheriffs across the state.
The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association (OSSA) legal counsel said that, “OSSA believes that it will cost local governments in excess of $40 million the first year alone, dwarfing the revenues collected by permit fees. If passed, these permit programs will be required — not optional — so local governments will have no choice but to reallocate other public safety funding to the purchase permits program.”
The OSSA estimates that 275 new employees would be needed across Oregon if law enforcement is to comply with Ballot Measure 114. That’s in a climate where it is already difficult to recruit law enforcement officers.
Nelson notes that the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is backlogged to February to process concealed carry permits, which represent a fraction of the numbers projected for permit-to-purchase under Measure 114. He estimates that he would have to hire additional staff at approximately $100,000 FTE simply to process permits and run background checks — not the most effective use of funds for law enforcement.
As Jackson County Sheriff Nate Sickler notes, “Currently in Oregon, background checks are already required on all gun purchases. All Concealed Handgun License permit holders are required to complete a firearm safety course and undergo an additional background check. Measure 114 will do little to reduce illegal gun ownership but will certainly add a significant barrier to law-abiding citizens in their ability to purchase a firearm and protect themselves.”
“There’s a cost to it, and it doesn’t solve the problem (of mass shootings),” Sheriff Nelson told The Nugget. “The problem is a mental health issue.”
He’s right. Oregon should be putting its resources into tackling what virtually everyone in the state recognizes as a mental health crisis that is affecting everything from homelessness to education to public safety — not into creating more dysfunctional bureaucratic mazes that, by design, only affect people who are willing to follow rules and abide by laws.
It would be a good thing if those behind Measure 114 were serious enough about making sure that Oregon’s armed citizenry is well-trained that a measure could be crafted that would provide funding for accessible safety education and training on a broad scale. Firearm ownership is a responsibility as well as a right, and we can hopefully all agree that our armed citizenry should be safe, responsible, and accountable.
As Sheriff Nelson says, “Every safe, responsible, accountable gun owner is a benefit to public safety.”
Unfortunately, while Measure 114 purports to enhance safety and reduce violence, what it really does is throw up bureaucratic barriers for ordinary folks who seek to purchase a firearm, and create enormous financial and administrative burdens on law enforcement that actually detract from public safety.
Vote no on Measure 114.