Police officers in Oregon don’t know if they will be able to purchase new weapons without a permit or carry their service weapons while off duty if the state’s embattled gun control law is allowed to take effect.
“It’s not clear how existing certified public safety professionals are treated under this ballot measure,” Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner told Fox News. “Both the purchase of weapons and the possession of magazines in excess of 10 rounds, which all of our duty weapons have that.”
Measure 114 requires a permit to purchase any firearm and bans ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, among other changes. It was supposed to take effect last week, but is currently blocked by a judge in eastern Oregon’s Harney County.
The measure does include a carve out for military members and law enforcement agencies when it comes to the magazine ban, but “solely for authorized use by that entity related to the official duties of the entity.” That has some agencies confused about whether officers will be allowed to take their service weapons home with them.
“What does that mean for our off-duty officers that often are asked to, and in some cases by policy required to, be armed off duty as well?” Skinner asked. “There’s a lot of those unanswered questions we’re hoping to get some clarity around.”
Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan told Fox News her department is looking to purchase 10-round magazines for deputies to carry when they are off duty.
“We don’t want them potentially getting a charge in another jurisdiction that could risk their police certification and job so we will look at getting them the lower capacity mags for off duty,” Duncan wrote in an email.
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Law enforcement officials said they don’t know of a single training program in the state that currently satisfies all the permit requirements outlined in Measure 114. If and when the law takes effect, they say police may also have to apply for a permit to purchase a gun.
“Every person, including law enforcement officers wishing to obtain a permit, will first have to complete training that does not yet exist,” Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jason Myers wrote in a court statement.
The measure requires instruction on state and federal gun laws, safe storage, the effect of suicide and homicide on communities, how to report lost or stolen firearms, as well as an in-person demonstration of locking, unloading, firing and storing a gun.
“Many of our smaller agencies require new officers to purchase their own handguns for use as duty weapons,” Oregon Association Chiefs of Police Executive Director Kevin Campbell wrote in a court statement. “Those agencies do not have a current supply of handguns to provide to new officers, and new officers will be unable to purchase a handgun without first obtaining the required training and then obtaining a permit to purchase a firearm.”
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Skinner said he hopes to get more clarity on the law in the coming weeks and is holding off on issuing formal guidelines to officers.
“I want to make sure we have as much information as possible instead of constantly having to amend guidance to officers in the field,” he wrote in an email Friday.
A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in the Harney County case.