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Board of Commissioners of Columbia Cnty v. Gun Owners Of Am., Inc.: Defending state gun safety laws

    Case Information: Board of Commissioners of Columbia Cnty v. Gun Owners Of Am., Inc., et al., No. 21CV12796 (Oregon Court of Appeals, Filed December 28, 2021)

    At Issue: Columbia County, Oregon passed a Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance seeking to nullify state and federal gun safety laws related to firearms. In this action, initiated by a one-sided petition, the County sought a declaration of the Ordinance’s validity or invalidity. Numerous parties intervened to support and oppose the Ordinance’s validity. 

    The trial court dismissed the petition on technical procedural grounds without addressing the Ordinance’s constitutionality. This decision was appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals. We seek a ruling from the Court that reverses the trial court and declares the County’s Second Amendment Sanctuary ordinance invalid and unenforceable. 

    Our Brief: In addition to arguing that the trial court was wrong to dismiss the petition without addressing the Ordinance’s validity, we argue that the Oregon Court of Appeals should directly address the Ordinance’s validity. The Court has the authority to make this assessment because the question at hand is purely legal. The Ordinance is invalid under at least the federal constitution and Oregon’s preemption law. Furthermore, public safety demands that the Court reach a conclusion regarding the law’s validity. The Ordinance creates confusion around the validity of Oregon’s gun safety laws, as well as federal gun safety laws, neither of which Columbia County has the power to nullify. The Ordinance chills law enforcement efforts imposing individual liability on County officials who enforce laws that may only be somewhat related to gun safety and by creating a private right for individuals to enforce the law’s penalties. It also misleads residents and visitors into believing that Oregon and federal gun laws no longer apply, even though they are actually still criminally liable for violating such laws.
    To illuminate the harm caused by the Ordinance, our brief presents three state gun safety laws purportedly nullified by the Ordinance: safe storage, extreme risk protection orders, and background checks. All three are demonstrated by research to make Oregon’s residents safer. Casting doubt on these laws undermines their execution and efficacy.

    Read the full text of our amicus brief here.