The Board of Commissioners of Lane County, Oregon, decided this week that it will not be enforcing the Beaver State’s new background check law. The law effectively bars private sales of firearms by requiring all such transactions to take place through a gun dealer. The Lane County Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution that affirmed their support of the right to bear arms, “and opposition to what they call an unfunded mandate created by Senate Bill 941.” And that’s where they found the legal ground to reject “universal background checks” . . .
Section 15(3) of Oregon’s Constitution exempts local governments from complying with an unfunded mandate from the legislature if (among other things) the money to carry out the mandate in question “exceeds one-hundredth of one percent of the annual budget adopted by the governing body of the local government for that fiscal year.”
In this case, 0.01% of the annual budget for Lane County would be $60,000. Alex Cuyler, the Lane County government and legislative affairs manager, notes that the cost of enforcing SB 941 is “probably very close” to the $60,000 amount. “It’s a borderline call.”
The Register-Guard details the law’s fiscally burden.
At the local level, enforcing the law would involve, for example, responding to complaints that individuals had failed to obtain the background checks, or charging someone who, in the course of a county investigation into other violations, was found to have bought a weapon without the background check….
Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp…agreed that SB 941 puts an extra burden on the…Sheriff’s Office.
The county would bear the burden of tracking down anyone suspected of a private gun sale without a background check.
“Mostly what the law does is affect law-abiding, legal gun owners,” Trapp said.
The Commissioners have decided that the sheriff is not going to investigate reports of background check violations. Reuters reports that activists opposed to Americans’ right to keep and bear arms are incensed by Lane County’s act.
“Do they mean to tell me the sheriff won’t prosecute the person who provided a murderer, illegally, with a gun?” Okamoto said.
If someone transferred a firearm to someone illegally because that person was prohibited from owning a firearm by federal or state law, that would not actually be the same offense as simply failing to run a background check on transferring a six-shot .22LR revolver to your grandmother, whose only exposure to the criminal justice system was a parking ticket back in ’65.
So Lane County residents needn’t lose much sleep over Ms. Okamoto’s sophistry. I’ve said it before: if the anti-gun crowd didn’t have bad arguments, they wouldn’t have any arguments at all.
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.