Attorneys for the state of Oregon are making their case to a federal judge today, arguing that Measure 114’s magazine ban and “permit-to-purchase” law should take effect on December 8th as scheduled in order to prevent “unnecessary deaths” from taking place. Ironically, however, if the goal of the ballot measure is to ensure that only those deemed worthy enough by the state (or its political subdivisions) to own a gun can do so, then the law is already proving to be an utter failure.
As we’ve been reporting for the past few weeks, the narrow passage of Measure 114 (approved by just 50.7% of voters) has led to a huge spike in the number of gun sales. At the moment, the Oregon State Police are so backlogged with background check requests on firearm transfers that they’re automatically delaying all new requests, and the Oregon Capital Chronicle reports that it could take months to get through the checks that have already been submitted.
Under federal law, if a background check request isn’t completed within three days, dealers are allowed to proceed with the sale. Many firearm retailers choose not to take that route, but faced with a crush of customers who fear their ability to purchase a firearm will be completely curtailed if Measure 114 takes effect without the permit-to-purchase system in place, some gun shops in Oregon have made the decision to conclude the transaction if they haven’t heard back from the state police within 72 hours.
The owner of a gun store in Tigard, who spoke to the Capital Chronicle on the condition of anonymity, said he’s no longer waiting for background check to clear.
He said he and some other gun shop owners he knows are completing all sales, no matter the weapons sold, unless Oregon State Police determine a customer has failed a background check within three business days. He said he’s sold about 500 firearms this way.
“All the people releasing these (firearms) — we’re not happy about this. But we don’t have a choice,” the dealer said.
Other gun shops are openly advertising the loophole to encourage sales. J&B Firearms in Beaverton announced on Nov. 20 in a popular gun blog that it would invoke what it called a “nuclear option” to speed up the process.
In the post on the Northwest Firearms message board, the store encouraged customers to buy a weapon, submit information for the background check and return three days later – but before Thursday, Dec. 7 – to pick up their purchases.
“We also invite and encourage all other Oregon (federal firearms licensees) to join us in adopting this policy,” the store said in its announcement. “If this state wants to take us down, we believe we should go out with a bang, not a whimper.”
Not every gun store owner the Capital Chronicle spoke with has invoked the “nuclear option.” Some say they’re concerned about potential liability for proceeding with the sale, while others say they’re unsure when exactly the 72-hour window actually starts.
Now, that's the Oregon I know and love! After I moved to Oregon for grad school, my brother Ted moved up as well, and we got into serious hunting together. His love blossomed further, and he became a pistol aficionado, as well as a gun shop owner in Lebanon. Rural Oregon was, and probably remains gun country.
Two days after telling a federal judge that Oregonians will be able to apply for a permit to buy a gun by the end of this week, Oregon’s attorney general Sunday night acknowledged the state isn’t ready to have a permitting process in place as required by the voter-approved gun control Measure 114.