Oregon Residents Consider a Different Kind of “Sanctuary” Policy

Feb 15, 2017

So-called sanctuary cities and counties for illegal immigrants may represent an unwise policy, but they are squarely in a tradition going back to 1798, in which a constitutional concept called “interposition” or “nullification” was employed by state and local governments to defy what were believed to be unconstitutional laws or edicts from the central government. Those claims were defended in detailed essays written by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who invoked the principles of un-enumerated rights and reserved state powers found in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

The same concept is now being embraced by counties in eastern Oregon that are acting to pre-empt state laws restricting firearms ownership. Following passage of the Oregon Firearms Safety Act in 2015, which purports to regulate gun transfers between private parties, four counties have adopted Second Amendment Preservation ordinances citing the authority of counties, municipalities, and cities to disregard laws that are manifestly unconstitutional. Coos County resident Rob Taylor explains that such ordinances create “sanctuary counties” for gun owners in “the same way Oregon has become a sanctuary state for immigration.”