A measure on the November ballot would make Clatsop County a Second Amendment sanctuary.
Voters will decide whether to prohibit county resources from being used to enforce any local, state and federal law or regulation that restricts the right to keep and bear firearms, accessories or ammunition.
The rule would cover any tax, levy or fee on the purchase or ownership of firearms, tracking requirements, background checks, confiscation orders or any restriction on the open or concealed carrying of firearms.
Violation of Measure 4-205 would result in a fine of up to $2,000 for an individual and $4,000 for a corporation. The rule would not apply to convicted felons or people barred from possessing firearms by court order.
Jim Hoffman, a leader in the Clatsop County Republican Party, led the effort to collect over 1,100 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.
“I want people to understand that under the Constitution we have rights guaranteed to us,” he said. “Our Founding Fathers were very smart by the way they put that together and we just want to make sure we maintain our rights under the Constitution.”
Hoffman worked with Rob Taylor, a gun rights activist from Coos County and chairman of the Committee for the Preservation of the Second Amendment, to craft the measure.
Taylor has worked with the Oregon Firearms Federation and the Tenth Amendment Center to customize the Second Amendment sanctuary measure for use in counties throughout the state.
Similar gun rights measures in 2016 were considered legally vulnerable, Taylor said, so a new version was drafted.
The measure is modeled after immigration sanctuary laws that limit police cooperation with federal immigration agents.
Taylor said the goal is to help turn every county in Oregon into a Second Amendment sanctuary. The progress is tracked on a website called Sanctuary Ordinance with the motto, “One County At A Time!”
“There is a goal in this country by certain segments in politics that want to defund the police, disarm the civilians and let loose the criminals,” Taylor said. “And we believe that we have a right to defend ourselves and that right comes from the Second Amendment. So anything we could do to reiterate that point — now is the time to do that.”
Martin LeTourneau, a Seaside resident and retired federal employee, said he intends to campaign against the measure.
He is involved in Indivisible North Coast Oregon’s South County group and has been attending the local Black Lives Matter protests. At some of the protests, counterprotesters have openly displayed firearms.
“I support the Second Amendment. But I do not support the idea that anyone has the right to openly carry a loaded weapon anywhere that they want,” he said. “I do not think that that is appropriate. And I think that it is creating the situations that will result in unnecessary injuries and deaths.
“And for me, it’s a very personal issue because we have had local and regional alt-right protesters show up at our BLM protests.”
Russ Mead, a Seaside resident and law professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, said Oregon has few gun laws. The laws that the Legislature has agreed on, he said, are common-sense restrictions like requiring background checks.
“So let’s think about the good these laws serve,” he said. “We want the sheriff department to bust someone who sets up a business selling guns to 8-year-olds after school. We want background checks to keep arms out of the hands of the mentally ill. We want law enforcement to confiscate the pistol from someone recently convicted of pistol-whipping their girlfriend.”