Benton County Sheriff responds to passing on Measure 114

Haley Stark, Reporter

Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan recently came out against Measure 114, a law banning gun magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. 

On her Facebook page, Duncan stated “I want to send a clear message to Linn County residents that the Linn County Sheriff’s Office is NOT going to be enforcing magazine capacity limits.” 

The measure, which narrowly passed in last week’s election, has proven to be controversial within sheriff departments. Sherman County Sheriff Brad Lohrey and Jefferson County Sheriff Jason Pollock have stood behind Duncan, pledging that their offices will also refuse to enforce Measure 114. 

Benton County Sheriff Jef Van Arsdall has a close relationship with Duncan, having attended police academy with her and maintaining a friendship throughout both of their entire careers. However, his stance on Measure 114 differs from Duncan’s.

In Linn County, 69% of the votes received were in objection to Measure 114. In Benton County, just over 40% of voters objected to Measure 114.

“For this community, you know we’ve got the campus and it’s a large, diverse community and it passed in this community. At the end of the day, I was sworn to the law. So as it relates to this, it’s no different than any other law that’s put into effect,” Van Arsdall said. 

Though Van Arsdall plans to uphold Measure 114 when it goes into effect Dec. 8, he believes that it is ultimately the Oregon State Police’s job to take care of issues related to the new law.

“We won’t be going door-to-door, checking if people have permits or if they have magazines and what not,” Van Arsdall said. “That’s not a good investigation and that’s just not how we do business.” 

Van Arsdall expressed that certain parts of Measure 114 may be difficult to uphold, specifically mentioning the long process now required to acquire a permit

According to Van Arsdall, potential gun owners will have to partake in a firing drill in order to receive a permit. The requirements of these drills and whether or not they will be facilitated through the sheriff’s office is still unclear.

Another issue is the underfunding and understaffing of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. 

According to Van Arsdall, appointments for concealed handgun permits must be made months ahead of time due to there only being one person handling them.

“Now if we have to start doing all the permitting, I don’t know what the capacity will be for this office to do that in a timely and efficient manner that’s appropriate for the citizens who do want to purchase firearms,” Van Arsdall said.

According to Van Arsdall, this possible delay in permitting could have detrimental effects on those hoping to acquire a means of self defense. 

“Whether you’re a law-abiding citizen, a survivor of a crime, a victim of crime, and you want to get a firearm to protect yourself, your family, whatever it might be, now this process just got really complicated all of a sudden,” Van Arsdall said. “I can tell you from my own personal experience trying to buy a handgun with our background process can be challenging simply because as law enforcement, we do take some steps to keep our personal information private. So sometimes that can drag out a background process, even for law enforcement.”