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Vote 'no' on Second Amendment sanctuary

The Second Amendment protects one of our most fundamental rights.

Gun ownership, whether for self-defense at home or as the last gasp against tyranny, is an essential liberty. On the North Coast, where hunting is a tradition for many families, guns are also a staple of our culture.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms. The decision settled the legal question over whether the right to bear arms was connected to service in a militia.

But the court also held that the Second Amendment is not unlimited.

Licensing, regulations on concealed weapons, restrictions on possession by felons and the mentally ill, limits on carrying guns in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, conditions on commercial sales and prohibitions on dangerous or unusual weapons are all legal.

We have argued for more safeguards to prevent gun violence.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 39,740 firearm-related deaths in 2018 — or about 109 deaths every day. Six out of 10 were suicides, the CDC found, while 3 out of 10 were homicides.

School shootings in the United States are disturbingly common. On Oct. 1, Oregon marked the five-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg that left 10 people dead.

Our hyperpartisan politics — in Washington, D.C., and in Salem — makes gun control difficult. Rather than work together toward sensible protections, many prefer to either fetishize guns or demonize them.

Enter Measure 4-205 on the November ballot in Clatsop County.

Sponsored by gun rights activists, the measure would prohibit county resources from being used to enforce any local, state or federal law or regulation that restricts the right to keep and bear firearms, accessories or ammunition.

That means Sheriff Matt Phillips could not enforce background checks, tracking requirements, confiscation orders, limits on semi-automatic firearms or accessories and restrictions on open or concealed carry. The fines for violating the measure would be up to $2,000.

District Attorney Ron Brown believes the measure is unconstitutional. Under the supremacy clause of the Constitution, federal laws generally take precedence over state laws.

If the measure is approved by voters, the county could file legal action in court to block it from taking effect.

But the Second Amendment sanctuary — also on the ballot in Columbia, Coos and Umatilla counties — is more about symbolism than constitutional law.

“We the people are the last line of defense against anarchy and lawlessness,” one of the backers wrote in a blog post. “We must be willing to defend our cities and counties from criminals, looters, rioters and unethical politicians with the protections and values enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.”

Rooted in the grievances and paranoia of the far right, the movement twists an essential liberty into another slogan of the culture war.

Vote “no.”