AP: Oregon Supreme Court expedites gun-control dispute

By ANDREW SELSKY     Jun. 08, 2018

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s Supreme Court set tight deadlines Friday in a dispute that has stalled a proposed ballot measure to restrict assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in the state. 

The court denied all requests for oral arguments and directed the attorney general to file by June 18 a single response to five petitions to the court from gun-rights activists. And it told the five petitioners to reply by June 21.

Backers of the statewide Initiative Petition 43 have until July 6 to gather 88,000 verified signatures from voters to put their measure on the November ballot. They can’t start gathering the signatures before the court rules on the arguments by opponents who say the ballot language is misleading.

There’s no deadline for the court to issue its decision, but Friday’s order accelerates the process while still giving the parties the opportunity to submit their arguments to the court, said Phil Lemman of the Oregon Judicial Department.

The court can either approve the certified ballot title as-is, rewrite it or order the attorney general to make changes.

In a statement late Thursday, Lutheran Pastor Mark Knutson, one of those behind Initiative Petition 43, urged speedy resolution “so we will be able to gather signatures as soon as possible and let the people of Oregon have their voices heard.”

Gun control has become a heated topic amid a flood of school shootings, many of them carried out with AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles.

One of those who sought the Supreme Court’s review of the ballot language, gun rights advocate Roger Beyer, said it is “misleading, argumentative, and deceptive because it implies the measure applies only to a limited and belligerent group of ‘assault weapons’ gun owners.”

If the initiative gets on the ballot, a “yes” vote would require registration with the Oregon State Police of “assault weapons,” defined to include certain semi-automatic rifles or pistols with a detachable magazine; pistol or rifles with a fixed magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition and certain semi-automatic shotguns; and magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.

Background checks would have to be conducted to get weapons registered. Unregistered weapons would have to be disposed of, and people moving to Oregon would have to hand them over to law enforcement for destruction, make them inoperable themselves, or transfer them to a licensed firearms dealer. The measure would also prevent a registered owner of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine from buying more of them.