Curry County commissioners will hold a work session April 24 to address a citizen-driven proposal for a Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance (SASO) that would nullify any future laws restricting guns and ammunition.
The workshop is slated for 6 p.m. in the commissioner hearing room in the Annex Building on Moore Street in Gold Beach.
The ordinance was initially proposed by a group from Coos County that is attempting to get similar legislation on the books throughout Oregon — by ordinance or through the ballot box — to protect Second Amendment rights from overreach by the state or federal governments.
“My rights as an American are non-negotiable,” Rob Taylor of Bandon told commissioners at an earlier meeting. “These laws are wholly unacceptable, wholly unnecessary, wholly irresponsible.
“It’s not the federal laws we have a problem with,” he said. “It’s the state laws we have a problem with. This is a directive (saying) the county will not cooperate with any state or federal laws concerning firearms or firearms accessories.”
A previous board of commissioners in 2016 approved an ordinance that emphasized their support of the Second Amendment despite some concerns that when they were sworn into office they already promised to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions.
This proposal goes further.
As written, the ordinance presented by the group would declare Curry County a Second Amendment Sanctuary county, and any attempt to limit the sales and registrations of firearms and their accessories would be prohibited.
The document notes the nation’s founders created government to exercise a “few defined powers,” but reserves the rights for citizens to decide what matters when it concerns their lives, liberties and properties.
A primary component of the document says “local governments have the legal authority to refuse to cooperate with state and federal firearm laws” that violate those rights.
Another section says no official of the county shall participate in any way to enforce any “extraterritorial” — federal or state — act regarding personal firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition, and proclaims Curry County a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.
Commissioners agreed the proposal would likely need changes before either the board or voters would act on it.
“I did more research into Oregon law,” said Commissioner Chris Paasch, “and it’s pretty clear that counties cannot trump state law.”
Commissioner Sue Gold has said she wondered what kind of liability such an ordinance would expose the county to, as well.
Dozens of bills
In Salem, lawmakers are looking at several dozen bills aimed at stopping gun violence, including limiting the allowed size of a magazine, restricting the sale of certain assault rifles, requiring a person to secure a permit before purchasing or receiving a firearm, and requiring a person to report a lost or stolen firearm.
Hundreds of people packed three hearing rooms and space outside the Senate Chambers Wednesday to testify or listen to hearings addressing two gun-related bills, including Senate Bill 978, the omnibus gun bill.
It would require safe gun storage; place the liability on gun owners if a gun is stolen, but not reported and used to injure a person or property; outlaw untraceable and undetectable firearms; grant local authorities the power to regulate firearm access in public buildings; allow retailers to set higher minimum purchasing age restrictions and make hospitals provide firearm injury data to the state.
Pastor Mark Knutson of Lift Every Voice Oregon was quoted in the Statesman Journal newspaper as saying, “It’s a bill that speaks to the vital moral and ethical mandate to end gun violence in this state and lift the weight of fear from our children and youth.”
Most people were in opposition to the bill, and wore stickers from the National Rifle Association or OregonPushBack.com that read, “I Will Not Comply.”
In their testimony, opponents described the adverse impacts the bills would have on their lives, or how certain provisions were unnecessary, or how the bills were an affront to the U.S. Constitution.
“The main outcome of many of these provisions will be to reduce the availability of a firearm for personal protection,” said Keely Hopkins, state liaison for the NRA, about SB 978. “This bill will be unlikely to impact crime, but it will undermine the ability of Oregon’s law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.”
In the House, four House bills deal with aspects of gun control; House Bill 2013 had a public hearing Tuesday.
Proponents say it closes a loophole that was missed four years ago when the legislature banned people convicted of a domestic violence crime or who were subject to a restraining order from possessing firearms.
“For the last several years I’ve been really proud of the work we’ve been able to do to make progress to ensure that every Oregonian can be free from gun violence,” Gov. Kate Brown testified. “The omnibus bill before you makes several common-sense changes to Oregon’s laws to continue this very important work.”
Scores of gun advocates picketed outside Salem earlier this month to protest Senate Bill 501, introduced by the organization Students for Change, that would prohibit a person from owning a magazine that can hold more than five rounds.
Many pointed out that most guns hold much more than that.