Illinois Valley News Report on Fire Arms Ordinance

Note the indented text, below. It shows what we have to deal with here in JoCo.

At their July 25 business meeting, County Commissioners Dan DeYoung and Simon Hare voted to approve a Josephine County firearms ordinance that will support gun rights, potentially in conflict with state law. Commissioner Lily Morgan was not in attendance, and reportedly had already planned to recuse herself due to a conflict of interest.

At the first reading of the ordinance on July 3, several residents spoke against it, and a petition with 158 signatures in opposition to the ordinance was entered into the public record. However at the second reading on July 25, 35 to 40 residents spoke in favor of the ordinance, according to Board of Commissioners Administrator Wendy Watkins.

Essentially the ordinance will prevent the sheriff or any county official from “investigating, detecting, apprehending or incarcerating” persons whose only violation of law relates to firearm possession or transference of ownership or failure to properly secure or register or report the theft of a firearm.

The exact language of the ordinance is available from the office of the Board of Commissioners.

The ordinance will have Josephine County join the “gun sanctuary” movement that swept through a number of rural counties in the state of Illinois and is now receiving attention nationwide. In Oregon, the movement began to gather steam in response to proposed Oregon Initiative Petition 43 (IP 43), which would have regulated possession of certain semi-automatic weapons and magazines of over ten rounds.  Gun sanctuary proponents in five Oregon counties (Deschutes, Klamath, Baker, Douglas, Columbia) have succeeded in placing so-called Second Amendment protection initiatives on their local ballots, while citizens in a sixth county (Umatilla) are still in the process of collecting signatures.  If the initiatives win voter approval, these  counties will join at least four others in Oregon (Coos, Curry, Wallowa, Wheeler) that had already approved similar ordinances in 2013 through 2016.

However IP 43 will not be on the state ballot in November, as court challenges to its language did not leave enough time to collect the necessary number of signatures.

In an interview with the Illinois Valley News, Commissioner DeYoung spoke in support of the proposed ordinance: “It basically shores up our [county] charter. Our charter has a Second Amendment element to it. So does the state constitution and so does the federal Constitution. It sends a message that basically we are going to honor the Second Amendment.”


“That’s what we swore to do,” he [DeYoung] added, “to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Oregon.”

However a public records request from the Illinois Valley News revealed that, in taking the Oath of Office as county commissioner, he crossed out certain words that are standard in the oath. The standard text reads, “I, [insert name], do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Oregon and the laws thereof.”DeYoung crossed out the words “and the laws thereof.”


“I know that coming down from the state they pass their stuff and then it’s handed down and they say that’s what you’re going to do,” DeYoung continued in his interview. “But I think it’s just kind of a message that we do recognize the Second Amendment to the Constitution and we are going to abide by it.”

During his interview with the Illinois Valley News, DeYoung spoke without stop for close to 20 minutes and with evident great passion in favor of the ordinance and the Second Amendment.

However Willamette University Law School Professor Paul Diller, who specializes in legal structures that constrain or empower local policymaking, gave his opinion on whether or not a county ordinance can contravene state law.

“If the state law is clear that it intends to apply throughout the state, then the state has the authority to trump an ordinance enacted by the county. And the general presumption is that a state law intends to apply throughout the state.”

Diller added that, generally, legal standing to test an ordinance in court would depend upon whom the ordinance applied to. But in the case of  this ordinance, which stipulates a lack of action as opposed to an affirmative action, unless there’s a private party who feels that they are at risk from a specific person, it would be up to the Oregon District Attorney and state Department of Justice to step in and sue the county.

However Diller did clarify that, in his opinion, the ordinance would not contravene Oregon Senate Bill 719, signed into law this year. That bill allows law enforcement to take guns away from someone who presents imminent risk, or risk in the foreseeable future, of suicide or causing injury to other persons.