Four mayors have urged voters to oppose a ballot measure that would make Clatsop County a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Measure 4-205, designed by gun rights activists, would prohibit county resources from being used to enforce any local, state and federal law that restricts the right to keep and bear firearms, accessories or ammunition.

Sheriff Matt Phillips has opposed the measure and said the county is prepared to take legal action if it passes in November. District Attorney Ron Brown has said he believes the measure is unconstitutional.

In a letter, Astoria Mayor Bruce Jones, Cannon Beach Mayor Sam Steidel, Gearhart Mayor Matt Brown and Seaside Mayor Jay Barber called the measure anti-law enforcement.

“It ties the hands of county law enforcement,” the mayors wrote. “With few exceptions, it makes it illegal for detectives investigating crimes to track illegal firearms used in the commission of a crime, prevents the county sheriff from seizing as evidence a firearm used to unlawfully menace, and subjects deputies to civil liability penalties for enforcing firearms related laws supported by the majority of Americans.

“Measure 4-205 would put our communities at risk by preventing deputies from executing legal, temporary confiscation of firearms from distraught individuals expressing suicidal or homicidal intent. It would prevent the county’s enforcement of virtually any limitation on firearms or firearms accessories such as silencers.”

Jones said he reached out to the sheriff and mayors in September after reading the measure to hear their thoughts.

“The measure, to me, is a solution in search of a problem,” he said. “And it’s troubling to me that it’s clear that the ultimate goal of the people sponsoring these measures nationwide is to eventually eliminate all reasonable restrictions on firearms, including those that are now supported by a clear majority of Americans, including gun owners like myself.”

Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer is the only mayor in the county who did not sign the letter. He said he has not taken a position on any local election race or measure on the November ballot.

“Voter-initiated measures are just that,” he said. “I think if you arm the voters with the facts, they can make the decisions on their own. And I thought the press had done a good job of that so far.”

Balensifer said if the sheriff’s office cannot deal with firearms’ issues, the burden would fall on city police departments.

Jim Hoffman, a leader in the Clatsop County Republican Party, collected the signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.

“I hope to God that it passes,” he said. “We’re fighting for our rights here. We need to keep our rights, keep a hold of what we have and not lose any more.

“Our Founding Fathers were very smart, and we’ve become very dumb. And people don’t get it. I want to make sure this area stays safe and secure.”

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or

(1) comment

Slappy McFerrin

I understand the opposition. I don't understand how many of them also support sanctuary status for illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes. Holding up federal law as the law of the land, then shirking it when it violates your sociopolitical sensibilities, is the height of intellectual dishonesty.

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