PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Months after a federal judge ruled Oregon’s Measure 114 — which requires permits for firearms, requires fees, fingerprints, safety training and restricts gun magazines to 10 rounds — is constitutional, a trial to determine its state constitutionality began in Harney County.

The big question is if the restrictions in the voter-approved Measure 114 are reasonable or if they inflict on a person’s right to use firearms in self-defense.

These questions are based on the Oregon constitution. The federal judge ruled it is constitutional and complies with the 2nd Amendment.

The attorneys bringing the lawsuit in Harney County claim the magazine’s limit prohibits self-defense, plus the time for the permit to process — a 30-day window — prohibits someone from their right to access a gun.

State attorneys counter that the regulations are reasonable in the age of mass shootings. They say the permitting system is consistent with previous restrictions Oregon courts have allowed in the past.

“Evidence in this trial will show that Measure 114 is a reasonable legislative response to the public safety concern shown by firearms, and Measure 114 does not unduly frustrate the individual right to bear arms in self-defense,” said Anit Jindal, one of the Oregon attorneys.

“This case is not about public health, public safety or public concern,” said Tony Aiello Jr., an attorney challenging the measure. “This is about individual rights. This is about the individual right to self-defense and the right to bear arms to secure that right.”

A witness for the plaintiffs said he recommends using as many rounds of ammunition as possible “because it’s an insurance policy.”

But Jindal countered. “Evidence during this trial will demonstrate that it is extremely rare for a person to fire more than 10 rounds when using a firearm in self-defense.”

The judge has not allowed testimony about the effectiveness of magazine limits in other states. Attorneys defending the law said they will provide experts to speak to how they can affect someone operating a firearm.

The law must also show it’s regulating firearms in a way that was not possible when Oregon’s constitution was created in 1859.

A bench trial to determine the state constitutionality over Oregon's gun Measure 114 began in Harney County, September 18, 2023 (KOIN)
A bench trial to determine the state constitutionality over Oregon’s gun Measure 114 began in Harney County, September 18, 2023 (KOIN)

Since the US Supreme Court struck down a New York firearm restriction in 2022, the State of Oregn must also show these regulations are historically consistent — meaning semiautomatic firearms or high capacity magazines were not common when Oregon passed its constitution in 1859.

Aiello said this case centers around how “an individual’s rights will fare agains the might of the Oregon state government. Plaintiffs contend this question was answered 165 years ago.”

Jindal rejected that notion.

“We will present testimony from historians demonstrating that large capacity magazines were not in common use in 1859. Similarly, the testimony in this case will show modern-day semiautomatic firearms are technologically distinct.”

Since this is a bench trial, Harney County Judge Robert Raschio will rule. The judge said each side will have 2 days to present its case.