Police ‘caught off guard’ by Oregon gun permit law, ask state for more time

Police in Oregon hope a potential delay in implementing the state’s new restrictive gun law will give them enough time to create and implement a permit-to-purchase system without any hiccups.

“An opportunity to kind of take a step back and really work on the mechanics of what we need to do to fulfill ballot Measure 114, that would be a huge gift to us in this holiday season,” Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner told Fox News.

A federal judge is expected to decide this week whether to delay Oregon's new gun permit law.

A federal judge is expected to decide this week whether to delay Oregon’s new gun permit law. (George Frey/AFP via Getty Images)

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Sunday night, the state’s attorney general asked federal Judge Karin J. Immergut for a two-month extension of the law’s training requirement after police said they would not be prepared to issue permits by Dec. 8, meaning all gun sales would cease.

Immergut heard arguments Friday relating to the first of several lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the measure and is expected to decide soon whether the law should be postponed.

Measure 114 bans ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and requires the creation of a permit-to-purchase system that includes fingerprinting and hands-on firearm training from an instructor who has been certified by law enforcement.

“One of the nuances of this ballot measure that’s really unclear to us is who’s responsible to do that training,” said Skinner, who serves as president of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, which represents police agencies across the state.

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The measure mandates instruction on state and federal gun laws, safe storage, the effect of suicide and homicide on communities, how to report lost or stolen firearms, as well as an in-person demonstration of locking, unloading, firing and storing a gun.

The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association “is not aware of any training program that is currently available and meets all of Measure 114’s strict requirements,” the organization’s executive director, Jason Myers, wrote in a statement to the court.

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That argument convinced the Oregon Department of Justice to ask the judge to postpone the training requirement by two months, but keep the Dec. 8 start date for all other parts of the measure, including restrictions on large capacity magazines and the process of applying for a permit.

“Postponement of just the training requirement isn’t going to be enough for us to meet the Dec. 8 deadline,” Skinner said. “We still need to figure out what a uniform application looks like.”

OACP and OSSA both opposed Measure 114, with the latter organization arguing the law would cost local governments $49 million annually and divert public safety resources.

Myers wrote that local law enforcement agencies don’t have the staff to process applications quickly. He expects it will take “many months” before the system can process permits quickly enough to meet demand.

Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said law enforcement agencies won't be ready to issue gun permits by Measure 114's effective date.

Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said law enforcement agencies won’t be ready to issue gun permits by Measure 114’s effective date. (Eugene Police Department)

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Voters approved Measure 114 last month by a slim margin after its proponents argued it would reduce violent crime, accidental deaths and suicides.

“We were caught off guard a little bit with respect to how quickly the implementation deadline was going to come up,” Skinner said. “I’m not sure there’s an agency in a state that’s going to be able to meet that deadline.”

Police originally expected the law to take effect no sooner than 30 days after the election was certified, Skinner said, which would have given them until January 2023.

But according to a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, the Oregon Constitution states that measures take effect 30 days after they are approved by voters, which has traditionally been interpreted as 30 days after election day.

Measure 114 passed with 50.65% of the vote.

Measure 114 passed with 50.65% of the vote. (Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)

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If a delay is not granted, Skinner asked residents to be patient with police and know that they’re working hard to get a permit system in place.

“Throughout my entire department, I’m short staffed,” he said. “And I know that many chiefs from around the state are feeling that same pain when it comes to trying to hire and retain people to do the work that we have now.”

Immergut had not issued a decision as of Monday afternoon.

Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.

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