By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Saga continues for gun law opponents

Perhaps Yamhill County should pony up $75,000 to Portland attorney John Kaempf for legal costs in the fight against gun regulations Oregonians approved in November. That kind of financial commitment makes as much sense as the county’s own high-cost appeal of a state lawsuit seeking to douse our “sanctuary county” ordinance.

The underlying saga merits historic review:

In April 2021, county commissioners declared Yamhill County a gun sanctuary where no new gun regulations would be enforced. The state of Oregon filed a lawsuit to quash that county ordinance, and in July 2022 Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge Ladd Wiles held for the state.

In August, Yamhill County appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals, so more county funds will be tossed down that rabbit hole. Meanwhile, in November, Oregonians approved new gun regulations with 50.6 to 49.4 percent approval of Measure 114. (Yamhill County defeated Measure 114 by 59.5 to 40.4 percent.)

In December, backing his county commissioners, Sheriff Tim Svenson said he didn’t plan to pursue violations of Measure 114. But totally ignoring the new law would be impractical, he said, because failure to enforce a new permit process would stop people from buying guns … and “I want citizens to be able to arm themselves.”

By then, the soup had already thickened:

Kevin Starrett, brother of Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett and executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, engaged attorney John Kaempf with a $60,000 retainer to fight Measure 114. That legal work quickly ate up the retainer and added another $66,000 to OFF’s bill, which went unpaid beyond the agreed 30-day timeline.

For reasons unknown, Kaempf wasted no time in suing OFF this week for past-due billing plus costs plus $5,000 enhanced prevailing party fee.

At least temporarily, Measure 114 remains in limbo due to state and federal court challenges. And here in Yamhill County, we have reported at least one “shots fired” story every month since June.

A 2018 international study reported that the United States had 46 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns in hands of less than 5 percent of the world’s population, and by far the highest homicide-by-firearm rate among the world’s most developed nations. We can assume that is unchanged.

There will come a day, perhaps far in the future, when America can contemplate its history of gun violence and death, and act decisively to change things. Meanwhile, we can only wonder what’s to come in a county where public officials feel empowered to snub our state laws and courts.

News-Register Publisher Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.



There has only been 34 mass shootings in the first 28 days of the new year. On track to another record! Ya we need more guns and larger magazines.


MacMinniville's very own mass shooter:

No problem. Politically correct, President Biden recommended shotgun.

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