A measure on the November ballot to make Clatsop County a Second Amendment sanctuary will likely be challenged in court if it passes.
Gun rights advocates behind the measure want 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.
A similar measure has made it on the ballots in Coos, Columbia and Umatilla counties. However, the measure has been blocked in several other counties, including Curry and Harney, after county clerks determined the content did not meet constitutional requirements.
Clatsop County Sheriff Matt Phillips said he opposes Measure 4-205 and that the county is prepared to take legal action.
Phillips believes the measure is unconstitutional and should not have made it on the ballot. He called it “a poke in the eye at the sheriff’s office and me and my deputies” that could expose them to civil penalties.
“I myself am a supporter of the Second Amendment, and I do have some of the types of things personally that I think this law attempts to protect,” the sheriff said. “But this goes way outside of what’s appropriate.”
District Attorney Ron Brown, who wrote the ballot title and summary for the measure, said he immediately noticed issues. He also believes the measure is unconstitutional.
“I think there’s a substantial issue of a violation of the supremacy clause,” Brown said. “Local jurisdictions can’t pass laws that prohibit the state or the federal government from doing what they have a right to do, which is regulate firearms.”
The county Board of Commissioners has not taken a position on the measure, but Kathleen Sullivan, the board chairwoman, said she opposes the idea. “I don’t think it will stand up in court,” she said.
Jim Hoffman, a leader in the Clatsop County Republican Party, collected the signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.
He worked with Rob Taylor, a gun rights activist from Coos County and chairman of the Committee for the Preservation of the Second Amendment, who helped craft the measure. The concept is modeled after immigration sanctuary laws that limit police cooperation with federal immigration agents.
Taylor works with the Oregon Firearms Federation and the Tenth Amendment Center to customize the Second Amendment sanctuary measure for use in counties throughout the state.
“The reasons I believe the counties are opposed to it is because it eliminates qualified immunity and because it messes with their collective bargaining powers,” Taylor said. “My Second Amendment rights are not predicated on the county collective bargaining authority.”
He said the measure was intentionally based on immigration sanctuary laws.
“If they go to try to defeat the Second Amendment sanctuary ordinance, they’re going to defeat their illegal alien sanctuary ordinance because they’re two in the same,” Taylor said.
“The reason we wrote it that way, (is) so if they legally challenged that law and they were successful, then it would give us the precedent to challenge the illegal alien law.”