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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

New gun law has a strange twist

Written November 14th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

Anyone subject to an “extreme risk protection order” will be barred from having or buying any guns for a year.

The new gun law known as Senate Bill 719 seems to have a loophole at least as dangerous as the people at whom the law is supposedly aimed. Albany police officials pointed this out when they briefed the city council on the law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Chief Mario Lattanzio and Capt. Eric Carter of the Albany Police Department outlined the law at the city council’s work session on Monday.

The law authorizes courts to issue “extreme risk protection orders” against persons who are likely to harm themselves or others “in the near future.” The orders may be requested by family or household members of the person, or by law enforcement. Such an order prohibits the named person to have dangerous weapons such as firearms for a year.

The law says owners have 24 hours to surrender their guns — and any concealed handgun license if they have one — once they are served. So here you have someone who a judge is convinced may kill himself or others at any moment. He’s told he has 24 hours to hand over whatever weapons he can get his hands on.

Police are wondering what that person might do in the 24 hours. Grab his guns and take off? Hide the weapons? Go on a rampage?

The law also says that if such an order is continued after a year, the person must surrender any weapons “immediately” and the police may search for any that are hidden. But if the order was obeyed in the first place, what weapons are there to surrender?

The chief and Carter said that if a risk order is requested by the police and granted by a judge, it will be up to the police to serve it. If requested by the family or household, service would be done by the sheriff’s office.

It wasn’t clear why this was on the work session agenda. The council has no control over the legislation or the courts. Councilman Rich Kellum, though, was worried about the apparent lack of due process. People hit with such an order can ask for a hearing, but only after the order has been issued. So, Kellum said, people can “have their stuff taken” without prior notice. Lattanzio said ordinary restraining orders work he same way. (hh)



9 responses to “New gun law has a strange twist”

  1. John Hartman says:

    Hasso’s analysis of the new Oregon weapons seizure statute included this line:
    “Councilman Rich Kellum, though, was worried about the apparent lack of due process.”

    Councilor Kellum’s worry is selective, dependent not on the requirements of a particular statute but on how Councilor Kellum “feels” about it. One need only recall the original 2014 Ballot measure (statute) legalizing recreational cannabis in Oregon. Included in that measure (statute) was a clause allowing communities and counties to refuse to allow cannabis sales if the citizens of a jurisdiction voted in the negative.

    The electorate in Albany in 2014 voted yes on the ballot measure by 341 votes if memory serves. This “statute” was passed by a direct vote of the people, yet Councilor Kellum, along with others on the council who believe in democracy when democracy is aligned with their beliefs, must have thought the new cannabis law did not have enough due process stuffed into it. Why else would Councilor Kellum have directly defied the wishes of the people, making small business start-ups wait 2 additional years, preventing the City from collecting much needed revenues from pot sales?

    The point is, whenever you hear a civic leader expressing concerns about due process, you can bet that some of those leaders will grasp at any straw within reach in order to stifle the will of the people.

    As Reactionaries like Kellum always like to point out, if you’re not breaking the law, you have nothing to worry about. Which begs the question; are unnamed Councilors skirting the edges of the duly-passed state law, fearful of their weapons being seized?

    • Actually, Kellum and other council members made use of a provision in the marijuana law that allowed local jurisdictions to opt out of the legalization pending another, local vote. They strictly observed the letter and the “due process” spelled out in the state marijuana law. (hh)

    • John Hartman says:

      The voters, whose will was defied by the Council, will be thrilled to know that the Council used process to directly move against the wishes of the electorate. Thank you, Hasso, for pointing out how due process protects leaders from doing what their voters wanted done. I feel so much better already.

  2. Thom says:

    Not that it is a silly part of the law in principle, but this will just cause gun owners to buy and sell them unregistered (as many do now anyway) and the police will never know what a person has in order to confiscate it. This just creates another level of bureaucracy. Useless.

  3. tom cordier says:

    This is old news since I brought this to the councils attention a few months ago. My understanding is that the “law” has been challenged by petition within a few days of creation and is invalid until that process plays out. Perhaps I am in error?

  4. Suzanne says:

    Kellum has made it pretty clear that he views the city council as his own personal soap box. Can’t wait to see what he wastes time ranting about at meetings in the future!

  5. John Hartman says:

    Thanks to Hasso, I am now feeling much better about Kellum’s choice to defy the wishes of the electorate. After all, he used due process to deny voters. Kellum’s careful attention to due process may be “legal” but his action, along with those others on the Council who chose to ignore the electorate, have accomplished one important thing. Their actions contribute to the lessening of respect for the institutions we allow to govern us, creating a much more coarse, doubting social order. If you want folks to respect due process, then you really ought to support the clear intent of the citizenry.

  6. John Hartman says:

    One of the more telling sentences Mr. Herring penned related to the gun seizure bill/city Council work session was when he opined, “It wasn’t clear why this was on the (city council) work session agenda. The council has no control over the legislation or the courts.”

    One possibility: the City will bear costs associated with enforcing this law if APD staff is used to serve and search for guns at an Albany address. The City is on the liability hook where APD is serving/searching and something invariably goes wrong.

    As to due process fears, Councilor Kellum can relax. Much wiser minds have given the matter serious examination. Tangentially, a Harvard/Northeastern University poll shows 78% of Americans do not own a gun. More than 3/4 of Americans have no guns to seize. Just 3% of Americans possess 50% of privately owned guns. Now those folks got something to worry about when the cops come knockin’

 

 
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