Benton County prepares for gun control measures


Ashton Bisner

A photo illustration of a newly passed Oregon Senate Bill with a shadow of an arm holding a gun created on April 25. Senate Bill 348 modifies firearm permit restrictions from Ballot Measure 114 (2022).

Nino Paoli, News Reporter

Though new gun control laws under Measure 114 were approved in Oregon by voters in November, the laws are still stuck in limbo due to court challenges.

Despite not knowing when or in what form updated gun laws will be passed, Benton County is preparing to enforce the pending gun control measures as if they will be approved by Oregon courts any day, to avoid a rocky transition period. 

Senate Bill 348, which was proposed in place of Measure 114, mandates a permit to buy a gun starting July 1, 2024, requires state police to complete a background check before gun sale or transfer, raises the minimum age required for gun purchase from 18 to 21 – with some exceptions – bans high-capacity magazines and sets a 72-hour waiting period before a sale or transfer can be completed, once a background check is approved.

SB 348 was passed out of the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee on April 4. Since passing through the SJC in early April, SB 348 has been sent to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, and is being further reviewed.

“When the voters passed (Measure 114), implementation was, of course, a large concern,” Benton County Sheriff Jef Van Arsdall said.

Van Arsdall preemptively hired additional staff to prepare to handle gun permits that the law in limbo – as written now – would require.

Van Arsdall said he does not want these changes to keep anyone who is eligible under the new restrictions from purchasing a firearm.

“The sheriff’s office isn’t going to be the hiccup in somebody exercising their 2nd Amendment (rights) and their ability to purchase a firearm,” Van Arsdall said. “Regardless of when this goes into effect, I do have somebody on staff that will do the permit-to-purchase process.”

Though Van Arsdall is not sure what form the gun control laws will take after the current court processing and what all they will entail, he hired Shelby Moody as a temporary employee for the time being, and plans on opening up the position to full-time.

Moody, who completed a degree in criminal justice at Western Oregon University and has worked on concealed handgun licenses with background checks as part of her education, said that if the permit laws are passed, her position would allow implementation of the laws virtually immediately. 

“The concern was that, technically, if (the gun control law) passes, we could have to enforce it as soon as the next day or that week,” Moody said. “It was something that we wanted to be prepared for right away if needed.”

Though Van Arsdall has done the preparatory work necessary to enforce the proposed gun control measures, he said that he wants to make sure the measures don’t prohibit survivors, victims or Benton County citizens without a criminal history from being able to possess firearms.

Van Arsdall said even though gun sales in Oregon are strict, police departments in and near Corvallis arrest people every month for being in possession of firearms. 

“Do we have a violence problem?” Van Arsdall said. “I think we do, and I think the gun is the vehicle.”

Van Arsdall does harbor some concern about the magazine capacity limit proposed by both Measure 114 and SB 348, as there is no exemption in the law for off-duty law enforcement or military personnel from carrying firearms with a magazine capacity greater than 10 rounds.

In anticipation to this, Van Arsdall has purchased 10-round magazines for his staff, so they can be prepared to still use firearms legally when off duty. 

“I’ve been doing it my entire adult life, carrying a firearm off duty,” Van Arsdall said. “What I would hope people expect of my law enforcement partners (is) to be able to respond to something that happens right here and right now.”

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