Malheur County Court to tell state it stands firm on local control of gun rights

The Malheur County Court is expected to send a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum regarding its support of local control of gun rights, part of its status as a Second Amendment Sanctuary county, which has been in place since 2015.

VALE — The Malheur County Court is expected to send a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum regarding its status as a Second Amendment Sanctuary, which has been in place since the court adopted an ordinance deeming it so in 2015.

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe on Oct. 6 urged members of the court to lend their support after learning that Rosenblum had just filed lawsuits against Yamhill and Harney counties regarding their resolutions passed in order to protect Second Amendment rights.

The Attorney General has asked circuit court judges in those counties to order that state gun safety laws remain fully in force and fully enforceable, stating that rules in those counties allow a person to sue or seek prosecution of officials who enforce state gun laws.

Wolfe said he was “very disappointed” in the attorney general’s decision to do that and stated that he would like to see the County Court take a leadership role in addressing it in a letter “expressing the need for local control on these types of things.”

“The demographics of Malheur County are sure a lot different that in Western Oregon,” Wolfe told the court. “Our way of thinking is different. Our way of life is different. There is definitely a cultural divide between the two.”

Neighboring Baker County passed a sanctuary status rule in 2018, and the Nyssa City Council did the same in 2020.

Rosenblum acknowledged that other county commissions have enacted “similar illegal ordinances.” She did not state whether she intended to pursue lawsuits against them, but stated that she hoped the lawsuits against Harney and Yamhill counties “send the message,” adding that county commissions don’t get to override state law.

Malheur County Stephanie Williams was expected to reach out to Harney and Yamhill counties to see how they are addressing the lawsuit.

“We have a sanctuary ordinance,” Williams noted. “We believe in it.”

Commissioner Ron Jacobs stated that he was in favor of sending a letter to Brown and Rosenblum “to express our desire to have more local control.”

County Court members agreed to have Williams draft up a letter so they could “keep marching forward” on the matter.

The court’s next meeting is at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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