(Headline USA) Local governments in Oregon can’t declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries and ban police from enforcing certain gun laws, a state appeals court decided Wednesday, in the first court case filed over a concept that hundreds of U.S. counties have adopted in recent years.
It is unclear whether the ruling against gun-rights, which are protected under the U.S. Constitution, might also have broader implications concerning the implementation of other laws that defy federal authority.
The “sanctuary” idea stemmed from a separate effort by left-leaning cities and states to obstruct immigration enforcement during the Trump presidency. Oregon touts itself as the first so-called sanctuary state, saying its law has been in effect since the Ronald Reagan administration.
The measure currently in question, which was approved in Columbia County, forbids local officials from enforcing most federal and state gun laws and would impose thousands of dollars in fines on those who try.
The state Court of Appeals ruled that it violates a law giving the state the power to regulate firearms.
The ordinance would effectively, it found, “create a ‘patchwork quilt’ of firearms laws in Oregon, where firearms regulations that applied in some counties would not apply in Columbia County,” something lawmakers specifically wanted to avoid.
Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions have been adopted by some 1,200 local governments around the U.S., including in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois and Florida, experts say.
Many are symbolic, but some carry legal force like the one in Columbia County—a conservative, rural logging area in deep-blue Oregon.
The Oregon case was filed in 2021 under a provision in state law that allows a judge to examine a measure before it goes into effect. A trial court judge originally declined to rule, a decision that was appealed to the higher court.
The ordinance’s supporters included the Oregon Firearms Federation, which said in a statement Wednesday that the ruling “calls into question the legitimacy of the court and the likelihood of getting fair rulings from it.”
Opponents included the legal arm of the Michael Bloomberg-funded group Everytown for Gun Safety, which, ironically, had argued that the ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution.
“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,” said Eric Tirschwell, executive director of Everytown Law.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press