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Oregon Gun Control Law May Prohibit Cops From Having Their Guns While Off Duty

Salem, OR – Law enforcement officers in Oregon are scrambling to figure out whether they will be able to legally carry their service weapons while off-duty under the state’s new gun control law.

Oregon Measure 114, which narrowly passed in November with 50.7 percent of the votes, requires a permit to purchase a firearm, bans the sale, transfer, or manufacture of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, and requires a background check prior to the sale or transfer of any firearm, The Oregonian reported.

Eugene Police Department (EPD) Chief Chris Skinner said it is unclear how the law applies to current law enforcement officers.

“It’s not clear how existing certified public safety professionals are treated under this ballot measure,” Chief Skinner told FOX News. “Both the purchase of weapons and the possession of magazines in excess of 10 rounds, which all of our duty weapons have that.”

Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association (OSSA) Executive Director Jason Myers said in a statement to the court that the measure establishes requirements and perimeters that are impossible to meet at this time, FOX News reported.

“Every person, including law enforcement officers wishing to obtain a permit, will first have to complete training that does not yet exist,” Myers said.

The training programs currently in place in Oregon fall short of satisfying all of the requirements set forth in Measure 114, according to law enforcement officials.

Myers said that at present, no one in Oregon “will be able to certify that they have received training on each of these very specific subjects,” The Oregonian reported.

There are exceptions to the 10-round magazine limit for law enforcement officers and members of the military, but those exceptions apply only “for authorized use by that entity related to the official duties of the entity,” according to the measure.

As a result, it is unclear whether police officers would be able to legally carry service weapons containing magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds while off-duty, FOX News reported.

“What does that mean for our off-duty officers that often are asked to, and in some cases by policy required to, be armed off duty as well?” Chief Skinner asked during his interview with the news outlet. “There’s a lot of those unanswered questions we’re hoping to get some clarity around.”

Oregon Association Chiefs of Police (OACOP) Executive Director Kevin Campbell said the gun control measure presents an especially difficult hurdle for officers working in some of the more sparsely-populated areas of the state, FOX News reported.

“Many of our smaller agencies require new officers to purchase their own handguns for use as duty weapons,” Campbell noted. “Those agencies do not have a current supply of handguns to provide to new officers, and new officers will be unable to purchase a handgun without first obtaining the required training and then obtaining a permit to purchase a firearm.”

Myers said the new law dumped a huge amount of responsibility for the implementation of the permitting process onto law enforcement agencies, but gave them no funding or staff to meet those requirements, The Oregonian reported.

“Measure 114 placed a substantial amount of work on all law enforcement agencies but came with very little direction, no funding, and no additional staffing,” he said.

The new law was supposed to go into effect on Dec. 8, but it was blocked by a judge in Harney County just before it was to be implemented, according to FOX News.

A hearing in that case is scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

In the meantime, Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan said she is working to purchase 10-round magazines for her deputies to use while off-duty to help protect them from possibly facing criminal charges.

“We don’t want them potentially getting a charge in another jurisdiction that could risk their police certification and job so we will look at getting them the lower capacity mags for off duty,” Sheriff Duncan told FOX News.

Chief Skinner said he is waiting for more details to be clarified in the coming weeks so he doesn’t end up giving his officers conflicting information.

“I want to make sure we have as much information as possible instead of constantly having to amend guidance to officers in the field,” he told FOX News.

The State Attorney General’s Office’s petition to toss out the Harney County Circuit Judge Robert Raschio’s temporary restraining order with regards to the implementation of the voter-approved gun control measure was denied by Supreme Court Presiding Justice Martha Walters at 4:52 p.m. on Dec. 7, The Oregonian reported.

Oregon Assistant Attorney General Robert Koch declared in the petition that Raschio had overstepped his authority and that the error needed to be immediately addressed and reversed by the state Supreme Court, according to the paper.

Koch further argued that delaying the implementation of the measure was an issue of “life-and-death,” The Oregonian reported.

Walters did not specify the reasons behind the state Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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