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Klamath County sheriff candidates united in opposition to Measure 114

Klamath County sheriff candidate Billy Stripling joined other contenders in voicing opposition to Measure 11
Justin Higginbottom
Klamath County sheriff candidate Billy Stripling joined other contenders in voicing opposition to Measure 114 at a public forum in Klamath Falls on April 18, 2024.

Oregon’s Measure 114 passed by a razor thin margin in 2022. Although it’s not on the ballot this year, it’s still a topic in upcoming local elections.

There was one question that united the seven candidates in a contentious Klamath County sheriff’s race gathered to speak at a forum last week in Klamath Falls: What would they do if Measure 114 becomes law?

That measure, which requires a safety training course and permit to purchase firearms and bans the sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds, is currently held up in state court.

“I believe it's unconstitutional. I would not enforce it,” said candidate Lieutenant Billy Stripling.

“I'm under no compulsion to uphold the federal law. This is Oregon. And I'm a county sheriff,” said candidate Sergeant Ryan Kaber.

“It's not happening, folks. It's certainly not happening under my watch,” said candidate Corporal Daren Krag.

The other candidates running in the November election similarly voiced their opposition to the measure, with those answers receiving the most audience applause of the night in the packed church auditorium.

However, it’s unclear if the sheriff-elect will ever get the chance to prove their resistance to the law.

Last year, Harney County Circuit Judge Robert Raschio ruled the measure violated the Oregon Constitution. The state has appealed that decision and this month the Oregon Court of Appeals decided the law wouldn’t be put into effect until a final ruling is made.

Whatever the decision of that appeal, Liz McKanna, legislative team chair for Lift Every Voice Oregon, said she expects the case to go to the Oregon Supreme Court. Her group fought to get Measure 114 on the ballot to lessen gun violence in the state.

McKanna said she hopes people will encourage their local law enforcement to enforce the measure if it goes into effect.

“Law enforcement will find a way to implement it. And they'll get a lot of support from the state police and we'd be happy to work with them to help talk about good ways to implement this promptly,” said McKanna.

The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association has expressed concern about the task of creating a permit system in the state and the availability of gun safety training courses. The association noted that passage of the measure led to the largest-ever spike in gun sales and high-capacity magazines in Oregon.

After 2022’s vote, a number of sheriff offices, from Jackson to Deschutes County, posted statements on social media saying their officers wouldn’t prioritize enforcing the measure.

Justin Higginbottom is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. He's worked in print and radio journalism in Utah as well as abroad with stints in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He spent a year reporting on the Myanmar civil war and has contributed to NPR, CNBC and Deutsche Welle (Germany’s public media organization).