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Court says Oregon, a sanctuary state for criminal noncitizens, cannot have Second Amendment sanctuary

Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Oregon is a so-called sanctuary state that refuses to help federal authorities enforce American immigration laws and hold criminal noncitizens accountable. Several local governments, including Portland's, have similarly claimed to be sanctuaries for foreign nationals who stole into the country illegally.

A state appeals court has taken issue instead with Columbia County, which endeavored to be a sanctuary for American citizens' constitutional gun rights, and on Wednesday barred it from dodging Oregon's gun-grab laws.

What are the details?

The Oregonian reported in 2020 that two counties in the state, Columbia County in the northwest and Umatilla County in the east, democratically approved ordinances directing county workers and the police to ignore a number of the leftist state politicians' gun-grab laws, including a 2017 law enabling judges to remove firearms from people who have not been convicted of crimes.

The gun sanctuary ordinances entailed fines for those who enforced the gun-grab laws.

Rob Taylor, a gun rights activist, said at the time, "All we were doing was trying to get rid of all the regulation that we believe are designed to eliminate gun ownership."

Michael Boldin, executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, told the Oregonian he had encouraged gun rights activists to model their ordinances after leftist illegal immigration sanctuary laws, though he reckoned the resultant ordinances were crafted "so poorly that in practice they actually do nothing."

The Oregon Court of Appeals voided the ordinance in Columbia County on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reported that the court had found the ordinance would effectively "create a 'patchwork quilt' of firearms laws in Oregon, where firearms regulations that applied in some counties would not apply in Columbia County."

The Oregon Firearms Federation especially took issue with Chief Judge James Egan's "scathing, incendiary, and frightening 'concurring opinion,'" which "equated ordinances protecting the Second Amendment with white supremacists and anti-Semites."

Egan — initially appointed to the Linn County Circuit Court by former Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski in 2010 — also accused those sheriffs who would refuse to enforce the gun-grab laws of embracing "racist and white nationalist ideologies."

Extra to suggesting that the desire by constitutionalists to protect gun rights stems from a desire to "prepare for a final battle" with "a cabal of elites or globalists (code words for Jews) in the UN, or the fictional New World Order or Zionist Occupational Government," Egan insinuated that the desire to protect Second Amendment rights was enshrined in a "white supremacist ideology" that "dates to the moment enslaved Africans were brought ashore in North America in 1619."

Egan also managed to invoke the discrimination of "LGBTQ+ individuals" in his concurring opinion, concluding, "to the dustbin goes the argument of UN mandates and constitutional sheriffs."

The Oregon Firearms Federation stated that to suggest the motives behind the Columbia County case "were white supremacist or anti-Semitic is a lie and defamatory. But it also calls into question the legitimacy of the court and the likelihood of getting fair rulings from it."

"We have come to expect these kinds of mindless and false attacks from the left and their pawns in the media. But coming from the bench, this kind of blatantly false and hate filled rhetoric is not only unsettling, it is dangerous. It inspires violence and retribution. It is frankly, unhinged," added the Oregon Firearms Federation.

Erich Pratt, senior vice president for Gun Owners of America, similarly suggested Egan's characterization was as false as it was ideological, reported Fox News Digital.

"While we are very disappointed in this ruling against the clear vote of the people, we are more alarmed by the raucous secondary opinion by Judge Egan," said Pratt. "These vitriolic accusations and opinionated commentary have no basis in fact or the law, and the radical viewpoints held by this judge are dangerous to constitutional doctrine and principle."

County Chair Casey Garrett told the Oregonian in the aftermath of the court's decision, "Our voters showed the desire to pass an ordinance to help better protect our Second Amendment rights. I appreciate that. ... But the reality is, counties don’t necessarily get to make those decisions, whether I wish they could or not."

Eric Tirschwell, executive director of Everytown Law — the legal arm of a gun-control activist outfit — alternatively lauded the court's decision, saying, "Opponents of gun safety laws have every right to advocate for change at the ballot box, statehouse, or Congress, but claiming to nullify them at the local level is both unconstitutional and dangerous."

This ruling reportedly may have significant implications for approximately 1,900 counties nationwide that have similarly declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in states such as Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, and Illinois, where gun rights are under attack.

The Oregon Firearms Federation noted that while it is dismayed with this outcome, it will nevertheless press on with its lawsuits against Ballot Measure 114 in federal court.

Measure 114, approved on Nov. 8, 2022, was on the ballot in Oregon as an initiated state statute. It requires that those seeking to buy a firearm in the state receive a permit issued by law enforcement; give their fingerprints; show photo ID; take a safety training course; and pay a fee. Additionally, the measure prohibits the manufacture, importation, purchase, possession, transfer, use, and sale of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

"While we have not had favorable rulings there so far, we are confident that eventually we will win," said the gun rights group. "But we are very dubious that the parallel case in State Court will be decided fairly if it gets to the Oregon Court of Appeals. These kinds of baseless and grossly unprofessional attacks are unconscionable."

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