Oregon’s attorney general and a group of Columbia County residents are getting involved in the ongoing legal proceedings over the county’s Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, through senior assistant attorney general Brian Simmonds Marshall, filed a document in the case, requesting that the ordinance be declared invalid.
Rosenblum wrote that the county ordinance and the two ballot measures it was based on “conflict with and are incompatible with the state’s criminal laws … the duties of the Columbia County sheriff, the duties of the Columbia County district attorney, and the duties of other offers and departments of Columbia County.”
Four Columbia County residents also filed to appear as “interested parties” in opposition to the ordinance. The four residents are Brandee Dudzic, a 2020 candidate for the county board of commissioners; Shana Cavanaugh, the founder of the progressive group Moving Forward Columbia County; Robert Pile, a member of the gun control organization Moms Demand Action; and Joe Lewis, a former Scappoose School Board member who was one of nine people injured at the Kent State shooting in 1970, when Ohio National Guard members fatally shot four people protesting the Vietnam War.
The four are represented by attorneys from the Oregon firm Stoll Berne, but are asking the court to allow two New York-based attorneys to join the case. The attorneys, Mark Weiner and Len Kamdang, are with Everytown Law, the litigation arm of the gun control nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.
“We have a range of opinions in Columbia County on many issues, including gun laws, but tying the hands of law enforcement officials here in Columbia County is not the answer,” Pile said in a press release from Everytown Law.
Eric Tirschwell, managing director for Everytown Law, said in a press release that Oregon law and the U.S. constitution “make clear that local governments don’t have the legal authority to pick and choose which public safety laws apply within their borders.”
“Groups that oppose state and federal gun laws have every right to try to change them in the statehouse and Congress, but claiming to nullify them at the local level is both unconstitutional and dangerous. That’s not how our democracy works,” Tirschwell said.
In a Jan. 21 letter to Columbia County attorney Sarah Hanson, attorneys from Stoll Berne and Everytown Law argued that the county ordinance was not permissible under state and federal law and recommended that the county use the state’s procedure for judicial validation proceedings.
Chris Brumbles, a Columbia County resident and gun rights activist who filed both ballot measures, said that he disagrees with the county’s choice to pursue judicial validation.
“I think they did this so that they could get it in front of a judge, so the judge could throw it out. I hope I’m wrong. I’ve never hoped I was wrong more,” Brumbles said.
“As far as I’m concerned, this is a huge attack on the will of the people. The people voted these laws in not once, but twice,” Brumbles added. “If this was happening to the other side, I think there would be an uproar.”
As of May 7, the county hasn’t filed any briefs in support of or in opposition to the ordinance.
The petition for judicial validation filed by the county in late March did not ask for a particular verdict. Instead, it laid out the issues to consider in evaluating the legality and constitutionality of the ordinance.
Voters approved a version of the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance last year. The ordinance would effectively bar local law enforcement from enforcing almost any restrictions on gun sales or ownership within Columbia County.