Two Deschutes County women who filed separate legal challenges to a proposed pro-Second Amendment ballot measure had their moment before a judge Monday in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
Neither retired teacher Zandra Brant nor Bend City Councilor Barb Campbell have any formal legal training, but as registered voters, they’re entitled to contest the proposed wording of ballot measures.
Brant and Campbell, who are opposed to Initiative Petition 9-2018-1, said they’ll do whatever possible to defeat the measure before it can get to voters.
IP 9-2018-1 would alter the constitutional definition of “firearm” to include accessories and ammunition and empower the local sheriff to determine which firearm laws are “constitutional.”
Versions of the “Second Amendment Protection Order,” as it’s called, have been proposed in counties around Oregon in response to Initiative Petition 43, a different statewide ballot measure.
That measure would ban weapons classified as assault rifles and magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.
Several Deschutes County gun-ownership groups solicited the signatures required to make the fall ballot. After certification by the county clerk, District Attorney John Hummel was tasked with drafting the 10-word caption, 20-word question and 175-word summary for the measure.
He submitted the following caption: “Expands definition of firearms and limits enforcement of firearms laws.”
And the ballot question: “Should Deschutes County expand constitutional definition of firearms and prohibit enforcement of laws that regulate their manufacture, sale and possession?”
Campbell and Brant had seven business days to pay the $265 fee and file their challenges. On Monday, they explained to Judge Wells Ashby why they felt Hummel’s proposed ballot language was insufficient.
Brant’s legal theory is Hummel’s caption should have used the word “prohibit” rather than “limit.”
Hummel responded by saying it’s not accurate to say “prohibit” when, under the ballot measure, it would be the sheriff who would have the authority to determine which laws would be enforced and which would not.
Campbell began her remarks to Ashby with praise for her opposing counsel.
“It is my considered opinion that Mr. Hummel is an excellent district attorney, and we are fortunate to have him in our community,” she said.
Campbell thought the proposed ballot title didn’t sufficiently inform potential voters of the significance of the ballot measure, which she says would invalidate both the state and federal constitutions.
“It’s his job to find the substance of that ballot measure, and explain to us that substance,” she said. “And on that, he got it wrong. The title is insufficient to explain the substance.”
Because Brant submitted a part of her argument early Monday before the hearing, Ashby said he would wait a few days to issue his ruling.
The judge could potentially order Hummel to tweak the ballot language or do it himself.
Campbell, who owns the Japanese-themed downtown gift shop Wabi Sabi, has served on the Bend City Council for three years.
Lately, she’s pushed the seven-member body to do what it can to support gun control measures, specifically background checks, which she said are widely supported by her constituents.
She said she has “great optimism” Ashby will rule in her favor.
Hummel said following the hearing it was good to see citizens leaving their comfort zones to take part in democracy.
“I commend them for having the courage to stand up and engage on this important issue,” he said. “I mean, we’re talking about safety, liberty and the law: pretty important stuff.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, firstname.lastname@example.org