COQUILLE — Coos County commissioners on Feb. 17 voted against sending a resolution to state lawmakers saying the county would oppose any upcoming legislation proposed to expand the firearms purchase background check system.
As of now, there is no such bill being considered.
Commissioners John Sweet and Melissa Cribbins voted against the resolution, while Bob Main voted for it.
For his part, Sweet said that while he wasn't opposed to questions raised by the large crowd that attended Tuesday's board of commissioners meeting for such legislation, he also wasn't clear as to what the majority of the county voters would want.
“I don't think I was elected to interpret what people might think regarding issues like this,” Sweet said. “I want to hear the other presentations from the other two commissioners but at this moment I will vote against it.”
While Cribbins was on her way to Washington, D.C., to lobby congressmen for the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payments, she said she could not take a position on a bill that did not yet exist. She did add, however, that if a bill were before the Oregon legislature that violated Second Amendment rights, she would oppose it.
As the only commissioner who voted for the resolution, Main said he saw no harm in doing so.
“We need to send a grassroots voice to the legislature that we don't want this,” Main said.
Seen as a preemptive strike by those who supported it, the resolution was created to divert legislation that might add more requirements to existing law requiring background checks for gun ownership.
Thirteen counties in Oregon have already passed similar resolutions, including Curry and Douglas counties. Clackamas County is expected to pass a similar one this Thursday.
More than a dozen people testified in a crowded commissioners' meeting Tuesday morning. Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni said he was adamantly opposed to any bill that he described as a gateway to a backdoor gun registration program. Eldon Rollins of Coquille noted that the exchange of firearms between family members and gun safety instructors to students are two transactions specifically exempted from background checks.
Another issue in question was how any expanded background checks would be funded.
Local county activist Rob Taylor said that in lieu of the resolution not passing, he and fellow county residents in support of the resolution will take the steps to file a Second Amendment preservation ordinance. Its basic precept: to adamantly oppose any more regulations and to make sure there are penalties for anyone who violates an individual's Second Amendment rights.
The initiative process to get the ordinance on the ballot will require 1,500 signatures.
“We just want something in place that reinforces our rights that are already enumerated in the Constitution,” Taylor said.