July 24, 2023
The same week a district court ruled the state’s sweeping gun-ban imposed by last fall’s ballot initiative to be constitutional, Democrat Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek signed into law a ban on home-built firearms. The measure, House Bill 2005, goes above and beyond federal law in prohibiting possession of existing home-built firearms and the raw materials for making them.
The legislation was the brainchild of Oregon State Sen. James Manning, who noted recently: “After years of work, my colleagues and I also took action on ghost guns with House Bill 2005. Ghost guns are unserialized and undetectable, making them the gun of choice for gun traffickers, violent criminals, and people legally prohibited from buying firearms.” Kotek’s signing of the measure brought a swift response from the Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF), which opposed the measure.
“The only thing undetectable appears to be Manning’s IQ,” the group said in a release following the signing. “The bill is as inane as Manning’s rambling commentary, but it is now law.”
OFF said the law is so badly written that it’s hard to tell exactly what it outlaws and what it doesn’t, which will put a burden on lawful gun owners.
“We have received a number of inquiries about what this bill actually does,” the group said. “But the bill is so poorly drafted that we can’t really answer that question with any certainty. It uses multiple definitions, including the Federal definition for ‘frame and receiver’ in an effort to ban personally made firearms.”
Interestingly, the Biden Administration’s “ghost gun” Final Rule, which the Oregon legislation was patterned after, was struck down by a federal judge two weeks before Gov. Kotek signed the new measure into law. That automatically calls into question the new law’s constitutionality.
“Just as the legislature was happy to pass a bill they knew going in was unconstitutional, Kotek just signed a bill that contains language that has already been thrown out by a Federal Court,” OFF said. “So, it’s unclear exactly what parts of this bill could ever be lawfully enforced. But that does not mean you are safe from prosecution under it.”
The National Rifle Association also weighed in on the new law, pointing out an important fact that Oregon lawmakers, and Gov. Kotek, apparently chose to ignore.
“Prohibited persons, such as felons, are already prohibited by existing law from possessing any firearms, whether home-built or mass produced,” NRA-ILA wrote in an alert to members. “This new law only harasses hobbyists and will not improve public safety.”
Passage of the measure came after a several-week walkout by many Republican lawmakers in an attempt to stop the measure from coming to a vote. It eventually passed, with some other restrictions on gun owners dropped from the final language.
One of the few up sides to the legislation is the implementation schedule. While the measure became law immediately upon the governor’s signing, actual enforcement won’t begin until September 2024.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.