Oregon police are unsure whether a new gun control law that limits magazine rounds and requires permits to purchase firearms will extend to off-duty officers.
Law enforcement experts are also complaining about the cost and feasibility of implementing the law.
Measure 114, which bans magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition and requires permits to purchase any firearm, was recently blocked by a judge in Harney County just before it was intended to take effect.
As the legal battle over the law ensues, many people in Oregon are rushing to stock up on guns and ammo.
For police, it’s not clear whether off-duty officers are exempt from the firearm limitations included in the law if it eventually comes to fruition.
“It’s not clear how existing certified public safety professionals are treated under this ballot measure,” Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner told Fox News. “Both the purchase of weapons and the possession of magazines in excess of 10 rounds, which all of our duty weapons have that.”
Although the measure does exempt military members and law enforcement agencies working in an official capacity from the ban, agencies are unsure where that leaves off-duty officers who take their service weapons home with them.
“What does that mean for our off-duty officers who often are asked to, and in some cases by policy required to, be armed off duty as well?” Skinner asked. “There’s a lot of those unanswered questions we’re hoping to get some clarity around.”
Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan said that in the event the law goes into effect, her department plans to buy 10-round magazines for deputies to carry off-duty.
“We don’t want them potentially getting a charge in another jurisdiction that could risk their police certification and job, so we will look at getting them the lower capacity mags for off duty,” Duncan said in an email.
Law enforcement leaders also complained that the permit requirements, which police officers may have to acquire to purchase a firearm, are unrealistic as training programs offered in the state do not currently satisfy the requirements to obtain those permits.
“Every person, including law enforcement officers wishing to obtain a permit, will first have to complete training that does not yet exist,” Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jason Myers said in a court statement.
To obtain a permit, applicants must first be instructed on state and federal gun laws, how safely store a firearm, the impact of homicide and suicide on communities, how to report lost or stolen firearms, and must undergo an in-person demonstration of locking, loading, firing and storing the weapon.
John Hummel, the Deschutes County district attorney, said police departments would just need to certify that future training courses satisfy the permit requirements.
“You can bet the private sector is going to ramp up,” he said. “This will be a good business opportunity for central and eastern Oregon, no doubt, where a lot of people are going to be wanting to obtain a permit to purchase.”
According to a court statement by Oregon Association Chiefs of Police Executive Director Kevin Campbell, smaller agencies whose officers purchase their own weapons may have trouble obtaining a firearm under the new law.
“Many of our smaller agencies require new officers to purchase their own handguns for use as duty weapons,” Campbell said. “Those agencies do not have a current supply of handguns to provide to new officers, and new officers will be unable to purchase a handgun without first obtaining the required training and then obtaining a permit to purchase a firearm.”
Law enforcement leaders in the state are also concerned about the potential cost of the new measure.
“Measure 114 placed a substantial amount of work on all law enforcement agencies but came with very little direction, no funding and no additional staffing,” retired Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers said.
According to Clatsop County Sheriff Matt Phillips, departments would need to hire additional employees to handle the increased volume of permit requests.
“That’ll be a challenge for a lot of police departments,” Phillips said. “From an equity perspective, it’s a barrier to people with lower incomes from legally possessing a firearm. It just adds one more expense.”
In total, law enforcement leaders estimate that the average sheriff’s agency in the state will have to pay around $700,000 to implement the permit-to-purchase program.
Permits cost roughly $65 and are valid for five years.