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Jackson County reacts to passage of statewide gun measure

Oregon’s new gun permit law is scheduled to take effect Dec. 8, and in the meantime gun sales are booming, local dealers say. [123rf.com]

Measure 114, the tough on guns measure passed by Oregon voters last week, was not popular with Jackson County voters, who opposed the measure 59,710 to 40,460.

Now with a less than a month until it implemented, locals are receiving the new law with mixed emotions.

“It will save a lot of lives,” said former Jackson County Commissioner and retired family medicine physician Dave Gilmour, who supported the measure. “It’s a public health issue — gun safety. I feel very strongly that as a public health measure, restrictions are needed,” he said.

As a physician, he celebrates the long-term potential for the measure to lower suicide numbers for males, who are far more likely to kill themselves with a gun. A waiting period of a few days and additional screening measures implemented by the measure may make the difference, he said.

“I believe right now the number is around 600 deaths in Oregon from homicides and suicides by guns every year,” Gilmour said.

“I’ve had patients who’ve killed themselves. I’ve had family members of patients who have killed themselves. It’s a horrible thing for family members to go through,” he said.

Gilmour also favored the prohibition on high-capacity magazines.

“Nobody needs a 100-round magazine. If you need that many, you’re a lousy shot,” he said.

Oregon State Police issued a statement Nov. 16, saying it is working through a backlog of 12,000 requests for gun background checks and also is working with lawmakers and other government bodies to determine how the law will be implemented.

Some in Jackson County don’t intend to wait that long.

“I can’t keep up in stock. So far it’s just a massive gun run,” said Jake Hosul, president and owner of Good Guys Guns in Medford.

“An 80-year-old couple came in and bought five firearms. People are coming in, especially middle-aged people, and saying they’ll just buy everything they’ve ever wanted so they don’t even have to deal with the card (permit). Cost doesn’t seem to be an issue,” he said.

Some are even coming in and confessing they don’t particularly like guns or never intended to own one, but now feel they should buy one before the law goes into effect, he said.

He’s heard from other gun stores that they expect to close or go out of business. Good Guys Guns may not be able to sell to Oregonians, but they sell online.

Husel was a longtime customer of the store when he learned the previous owner had attempted to sell, and after a deal gone sour, the store was about to go out of business. Husel and his wife bought Good Guys Guns three months ago to keep it alive. He was adamant the store will not close.

It may get new business through its firearms training. Hosul said he had his instructors renewed their certifications months ago, just in case Measure 114 passed.

“We currently offer two to four classes weekly. But who knows what the demand will be?” he said.

Scott Nolan, secretary for the Medford Rifle and Pistol Club, said the club has decided not to conform to the law in its training.

“We will not train to what Measure 114 requires. We cannot afford the liability. We will continue with the training we have, which are NRA-certified instructors,” he said. When asked what he meant by liability, he did not elaborate.

The club is a nonprofit, Nolan said, and isn’t interested in getting involved with political conversations. But in his personal opinion, the law is all wrong.

“Right now, it’s going to shut down every gun seller in the county on Dec. 8,” he said. “It’s unenforceable, unconscionable, unconstitutional, and it needs to be taken out.”

Gilmour tempered his support for the measure with the caveat that the law will need some work to be effective.

“It’s not going to work if the Legislature doesn’t allocate the funding for the Sheriff’s Office, which is already burdened with other issues,” Gilmour said.

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler issued a statement Nov. 12, saying his department will do its best to enforce the law, with some limitations.

“If this measure takes effect, my office will work diligently to ensure people have the ability to get a permit needed to purchase a firearm, as that is a constitutional right,” he said.

“We will not spend time and resources investigating who has obtained magazines that have a capacity over 10 rounds after this measure takes effect,” he said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.