Columbia County Sanctuary Ordinance Voided by State Court of Appeals

Earlier this week, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that voids the county's Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance. The appeals court found that the ordinance was preempted by state law and instructed the county to follow state gun laws. 

"County voters voiced their desire for an ordinance to help better protect our Second Amendment rights," stated County Commissioner Casey Garrett. "The Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance was adopted by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners to implement the intent of the voters. But the reality is that counties don't necessarily have the authority to make those decisions."

In 2018 and 2020 voters approved two measures, the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance and the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance, respectively. The Columbia County Board of Commissioners combined the two measures into a single ordinance which was adopted in March of 2021. Several important legal questions about the authority of a county governing body to enact the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance were raised. To gain clarity and avoid costly future litigation, the county filed a "Petition for Validation of Local Government Action" with the Columbia County Circuit Court. This authorized the court to conduct a judicial examination of the ordinance and provide a judgment as to its legality. When the judge decided not to perform a judicial review, the county filed an appeal to request a review of the decision not to provide clarity on the legal questions surrounding the ordinance.

"We asked the Court of Appeals to determine if it was lawful for the local court to refuse to provide a judgment as to the legality of the ordinance," said Sarah Hanson, County Counsel. "The county was not seeking to invalidate the ordinance, only to get answers to the many legal questions raised by it."

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