Second challenge to 'assault weapons' ballot title filed
SALEM — A second legal challenge was filed Thursday against a certified ballot title for IP 43, a proposed ballot measure that would ban certain types of semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines.
The Oregon state director for the National Rifle Association and the legislative committee chair of the Oregon Hunters' Association say the certified ballot title issued by the Attorney General's Office doesn't comply with state laws on ballot title language.
It's the second request for Supreme Court review of the controversial ballot title. Another petition was filed Wednesday by an Oregon lobbyist whose clients include the NRA.
Both petitions for review object to the language used in the ballot title. The certified ballot title currently states:
"Prohibits assault weapons (defined), "large capacity magazines" (defined), unless registered with State Police after background check. Criminal penalties. State police must maintain registry."
It defines each term in a summary that follows descriptions of what a "Yes" and a "No" vote mean.
Thursday's petition argues that those descriptions should be more "impartial" and that the current version "buries the actual major effect of the measure," which the petitioners argue is to criminalize the sale and possession of commonly owned firearms.
Petitioners object to the use of the terms "assault weapons" and "large capacity magazines," saying they are "prejudicial, politically charged and emotionally laden."
The petition, backed by a coalition of faith leaders calling itself the Lift Every Voice Campaign, aims to block the sale of some semi-automatic weapons with certain features, and most magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
If the measure succeeds, people who own those types of guns and magazines would have to register them with the Oregon State Police and submit to a background check.
Chief petitioner Rev. W.J. Mark Knutson called the NRA's petition "deeply troubling," and said the legal challenge could delay efforts to gather enough signatures to get the petition on the ballot.
"The time to vote on this common sense public safety and gun violence issue is now," Knutson said in a statement Thursday. "The Lift Every Voice Campaign is hopeful that the Attorney General and Supreme Court will handle this in an expeditious manner so we will be able to gather signatures as soon as possible and let the people of Oregon have their voices heard."
The petitioners say they do not plan to file a challenge to the ballot title. The deadline is Thursday night.
Generally, when a ballot title is challenged, the attorney general will respond to the challenges, arguing either that the ballot title is in "substantial compliance" with state statutes or propose changes to the ballot title. Then petitioners can respond again, and the Supreme Court takes the case under consideration, asks for more information from the parties, and/or schedules oral arguments.
It's possible the Oregon Supreme Court may consolidate the two challenges into one case, according to a spokesman for the Oregon Judicial Department.
The petition must get 88,184 signatures by July 6 to qualify for the ballot.