By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

DOJ sues county over gun ordinance

The Oregon Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Yamhill County in response to its ordinance declaring itself exempt from state gun laws.

County Commissioners Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer enacted the ordinance in early April, outvoting Commissioner Casey Kulla and disregarding a warning from County Counsel Christian Boenisch that the ordinance might pre-empt state gun laws, which is banned under state law.

The ordinance declared that no county resources would be used to uphold state or federal gun laws enacted after February — and that any county official attempting to enforce the laws could be fined and subject to private lawsuits.

“I have a hard time seeing a prohibition to enforce being anything other than an attempt to regulate, even if it’s only an attempt to regulate locally,” Boenisch told commissioners at the time.

Starrett and Berschauer argued at the time that no county’s Second Amendment ordinance had yet been challenged in court, but Boenisch said he did not believe any county had actually attempted to enforce its ordinance.

Yamhill County’s ordinance went into effect at the end of June.

On Friday, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced that she was suing Yamhill and Harney counties over their ordinances.

“Gun safety laws exist to help keep guns out of dangerous hands and keep people safe. A county commission simply doesn’t get to override state law in this way,” Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a press release.

“The laws of Oregon remain fully in force — and fully enforceable — notwithstanding these invalid ordinances. No officials should be frightened out of properly doing their job by the threat of illegitimate criminal charges or bogus lawsuits,” Rosenblulm said. “Although today’s lawsuits are addressed to only these two Oregon counties, other counties have enacted similar illegal ordinances. These actions will hopefully send the message that we are prepared to preserve the rule of law across our state.”

Both District Attorney Brad Berry and Sheriff Tim Svenson expressed concerns about the ordinance to commissioners last spring. Commissioners initially removed the provisions the two objected to, but later added them back at a meeting neither was available to attend.

While debating the issue last spring, the county was flooded by letters in support, mostly from people who do not live in the county, at the request of the Oregon Firearms Federation, which is headed by Starrett’s brother, Kevin Starrett.

Letters also came in from county residents; the majority of them in opposition.

Comments

Rotwang

Ask residents of Portland if they feel more safe these days, with all your new "gun safety" laws.

Scotty

Come on Rot! You say you are moving and claim that you had a closing date. I thought you were wanting to get away from the woke, Marxist mob you despise so much. Can we start a gofundme or something to make your promise of moving a reality?

treefarmer


Well now, ordering sworn law enforcement officers to NOT enforce laws…..this goes beyond blatant abuse of power, it is tyrannical. I have been advised that the recall of Berschauer is progressing nicely so between the prospect of her departure, and the State of Oregon adjudicating this Yamhill County shame, there appears to be hope for us yet.

And Scotty – re the gofundme you suggest, sounds like a great investment to me!

DG

How much money is Lindsay Berschauer going to cost our county? Time to sign that recall petition! saveyamhillcounty.com

tagup

When The county attorney, the DA and the sheriff all advised against the ordinance....is this lawsuit really a surprise? I guess being related to a commissioner has its benefits.....
The citizens of Yamhill county deserve better.

Rotwang

I now live in another state, but will be an irritant to you until my subscription lapses. It's sad that a New York billionaire is robbing all of you of a basic human right through a compliant AG, and all you can offer to me is ad hominems. I cannot see how, among other things, doubling the price of a CHL, makes any good individual more safe. That being said, I will take your money to defray the cost of my recent move.

yamhillbilly2

Rot, you must have a pretty sad life if coming to this forum to ’irritate’ rather than have a conversation or discussion gives you some sort of satisfaction. Most of us realize you are simply a very sad troll. You will be remembered along with the greats who have shut up and gone away.

yupjoe

Criminals do not follow laws, by definition. The Oregon legislature does not seem to understand that.

Treehouse

$5 million would be a very conservative cost estimate to fully litigate this in state court, not including staff time and admin.

Do any of you have the spare change? Because Yamhill County does not. Andrew Miller wants to see the county bankrupted.

Recall Beschauer and replace Starrett.

Rotwang

It would be cheaper in the long run to dismiss all democrats in the next election, including your gun-grabbing AG who is Bloomberg's trained pet.

miracle

The issue here isn't about gun rights and the second amendment - which I and most everyone supports. It's about county commissioners thinking they can legislate, by parroting something handed to them by Starrett's brother. "A county commission simply doesn’t get to override state law" is the issue. Starrett and Berschauer need to go back and read the oath of office they took. At one time, it was posted on Berschauer's Facebook page for all to see. Their oath is to uphold the laws and constitution of the state of Oregon - not just the ones they agree with. Thus, their actions are a direct violation of the very oath of office which they took. Doesn't seem to bother them though. This is going to cost a lot of Yamhill County taxpayer money, and I hope voters remember this........

Rotwang

LOL. No, the Bloomberg puppet AG needs to revisit her oath of office. Marbury vs Madison tells us that every law passed which is an insult to the federal constitution is void and cannot be enforced. Berschauer and Starrett are performing their jobs to the letter. And, when they prevail, loser pays - in this case, the state government.

tagup

Hope you didn’t pull a muscle on that reach.....

Rotwang

Tagup, the end of your last sentence is missing, as indicated by the ellipsis. Please send again.

Jeb Bladine

Rotwang,

I'm all for spirited discussion on the N-R Forum, but your claim about Marbury v. Madison is a significant over-reach of legal interpretation. That 1804 case established that American courts can review the constitutionality of laws and can declare them to be in violation of the Constitution ... Subject, of course, to appeals up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court. There is no legal doctrine for "insulting" the Constitution, and the voiding of laws is a complicated issue subject to specific court jurisdictions until a national (Supreme Court) decision comes down.

As for legal costs, I'm not prepared with an opinion ... perhaps a legal professional could let us know if the county actually would be reinbursed its legal costs if it prevails in this state lawsuit.

David S. Wall

The Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum has been raising money this year (2021) for 'campaign related expenses.' The AG is associated with the 'National Democratic fundraising network" successfully raising money from the eastern seaboard of the United States. What 'campaign' remains to be identified. The AG appears to be a potential candidate for Governor.

Why didn't the AG initiate the 'lawsuit against Yamhill and Harney Counties' as soon as the hollow 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County Ordinances became effective? Better yet, why hasn't the AG initiated lawsuits against the 'Sanctuary State' legislation enabling and facilitating multiple and ongoing felonies shielding illegal aliens from detection? Marijuana is still listed by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a 'Schedule 1 Drug classification.' What litigious actions, if any, by the AG to remove this designation?

Yamhill and Harney Counties are also governed by 'elected conservative representatives.' What other 'Oregon Counties' have enacted similar 2nd Amendment Ordinances? Why aren't they identified? Are they governed by 'Socialists?' Are 'conservative values' the issue with the AG?

It seems to me the AG's foray into the litigious world taking on Yamhill and Harney Counties has more to do about 'free media campaign advertising' via the court system rather than taking guns away from kooks.

The article raises many issues for further investigation one of which, in my opinion, is the following;

"... Both District Attorney Brad Berry and Sheriff Tim Svenson expressed concerns about the ordinance to commissioners last spring. Commissioners initially removed the provisions the two objected to, but later added them back at a meeting neither was available to attend."

The 'Commissioners' need to thoroughly explain their aforementioned actions to the 'Voters' via the News Register.

David S. Wall

Hibb

County Commissioners Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer strike again! They've had their "three strikes" and should be voted out!

Hibb

P.S. We should strive to keeps guns out of the hands of criminals and idiots, that way people like County Commissioners Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer will be less of a threat.