Gun rights advocates pen initiative for November ballot
By Alicia Wolverton
Newberg Graphic news intern
A local group of gun activists have recently submitted an initiative to the Yamhill County Clerk's Office to protect their Second Amendment rights.
According to the initiative, titled Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance (SAPO), the key organizers are seeking to protect gun rights as originally denoted in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The organizers listed on the initiative are Lafayette residents Joe Munger, Brandye Munger and Crystal Poulsom, as well as Titus Jones, of Sheridan. Though efforts to reach them were unsuccessful as of press time Tuesday morning, the initiative contains the key points they are trying to attain.
The ordinance is essentially focused on preserving constitutional gun rights from being infringed upon by either the state or federal governments.
"Any regulation of the right to keep and bear arms or ancillary firearms rights that violate the Second, Ninth or Tenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America, or Article 1, sections 20, 27 and 33 of the Constitution of the State of Oregon, as articulated herein, shall be regarded by the people on and in Yamhill County as unconstitutional; a transgression of the Supreme Law of the Land and its spirit of liberty, and therefore by necessity void ab initio (or, to be treated as invalid from the outset)," the initiative reads.
The group's hope is that by approving SAPO, the right to bear arms and other ancillary gun rights will be preserved, as any regulations at the state or federal levels that restrict constitutional rights would thereby be rendered void. The Yamhill County Sheriff would be charged with determining when and which rights were being violated within his jurisdiction. According to the Yamhill County District Attorney's Office, "Approval of the measure would subject individual violators to fines of up to $2,000 and corporations to fines of up to $4,000."
In an email interview, County Clerk Brian Van Bergen noted that county initiatives such as this one are rare; the last one he could recall occurring in 2008. Commenting on the initiative process, Van Bergen stated that county initiatives must be approved by the clerk's office, where it is ensured that the "initiative meets the Constitutional requirements of being legislative (and not administrative) in nature and only embraces one subject."
After this occurs, District Attorney Brad Berry will be tasked with assigning a title for the initiative as well as the caption, question, and summary that will appear on the ballot if the initiative receives enough signatures. Once these tasks are completed, Berry will return the initiative to the clerk's office.
Once received, the clerk's office creates signature sheets that initiative organizers must return with the correct number of signatures that will then be verified against voter registration data. The number of signatures required is 6 percent of the number of votes cast in the last general election for governor.
"We had 36,367 voters cast ballots for governor in 2014," Van Bergen said. "So, they need to collect no fewer than 2,182 signatures from active registered voters where both the signatures and addresses match our voter registration data before Aug. 8 … to qualify for the Nov. 6 general election."
For those interested in learning more about this initiative, the documents will soon be posted on the county website at https://bit.ly/2yh8Kwe.