A federal judge has ruled Oregon’s controversially strict gun-control law constitutional.
On Friday, District Judge Karin Immergut ruled that Measure 114’s ban on large-capacity magazines and permit requirement to purchase a firearm does not violate the Second Amendment.
“As explained below, Plaintiffs have not shown that the Second Amendment protects large-capacity magazines, defined as magazines capable of firing eleven or more rounds without reloading,” Judge Immergut wrote in Oregon Firearms Federation v. Kotek. “And even if the Second Amendment were to protect large-capacity magazines, this Court finds that Defendants and Intervenor-Defendant have established that Oregon’s restrictions on the use and possession of large-capacity magazines are consistent with the Nation’s history and tradition of firearm regulation.”
The decision comes on the heels of dozens of gun-control laws being deemed unconstitutional after the Supreme Court’s landmark New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen decision last summer. Bruen’s ruling has forced lower courts to evaluate firearm restrictions by looking through the lens of the historical tradition of such laws dating back to the Founding Era.
Judge Immergut, a Donald Trump appointee, found no issue with both the permit-to-purchase requirement and the large-capacity magazine restriction.
“This Court also finds that the text of Oregon’s permit-to-purchase framework is consistent with the type of regulations that the United States Supreme Court has deemed constitutional under the Second Amendment,” she stated.
Measure 114 passed in November with a margin of under two percent. It requires Oregonians to apply for a permit, pass multiple background checks, submit fingerprints, ID, and proof of firearm training, as well as pay a $65 fee before purchasing a gun. In addition, it bans the sale of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Law enforcement and military use are exempted.
Judge Immergut’s argument centered on claims about the necessity of large-capacity magazines, and the idea that technological advances since the Founding Era have made new regulations reasonable.
“While Bruen’s test for Second Amendment challenges is grounded in history and tradition, Bruen also acknowledged that modern regulations may implicate either ‘unprecedented societal concerns’ or ‘dramatic technological changes’ different from those that existed at the Second Amendment’s ratification in 1791 or at the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification in 1868,” she wrote.
Oregon Firearms Federation called the decision “absurd” and promised to continue fighting it in higher courts.
“What we have read defies belief,” the gun-rights group said in a message to supporters. “While not entirely unexpected, Immergut’s ruling is simple nonsense and sure to be overturned at the 9th circuit.”
The gun regulation has been mired in controversy since its inception. Multiple major national gun rights organizations filed lawsuits against it claiming it violates the Second Amendment.
Due to logistical concerns from Oregon officials, in December Judge Immergut initially delayed the implementation of the permit-to-purchase requirement. However, she did not do anything to restrict the rest of Measure 114.
Shortly after, Harney County Judge Robert Raschio issued a temporary restraining order for the entire measure. Judge Raschio came to the opposite conclusion from Judge Immergut. He found the law is a violation of the state constitution and blocked its implementation.
“Absent entry of this Temporary Restraining Order, Plaintiffs will be deprived of their right to bear arms pursuant to Or. Const. Art. 1, Sec. 27 by being made unable to lawfully purchase a firearm or bear a magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition in the state of Oregon,” Judge Raschio wrote at the time. “Deprivation of fundamental Constitutional Rights for any period constitutes irreparable harm.”
The measure drove record gun sale numbers in Oregon and continues to be a hotly contested topic across the state.
Even with Judge Immergut’s recent decision, Measure 114 is still blocked by the state court. A Trial in Harney County Circuit Court is scheduled for September.