SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon Supreme Court has temporarily blocked an initiative that would ban the sale of some semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines just over a week before a key deadline, likely stopping it from making the November ballot.
Earlier arguments over Initiative Petition 43 had been fast-tracked. But Wednesday's ruling triggered a statutory timeline that leaves at most one day for supporters to gather more than 88,000 signatures, and sets it up to become the second prominent gun control proposal to fail after court delays in the state this year.
In its ruling, the court found problems with the official description of Initiative Petition 43 drafted by its supporters. The court ruled that the initiative must be revised before supporters can begin gathering the signatures, which must be delivered no later than July 6 to qualify for the November ballot.
But a court spokesman said Wednesday that even if a revised version were returned immediately, state law requires a five-business-day reply period before the court can approve the new language.
"The earliest the court could act is the morning of the sixth," said Phil Lemman, a spokesman for the Oregon Judicial Department.
Supporters would then have to gather and deliver 88,184 signatures to the secretary of state by 5:30 p.m. the same day, July 6, to get the measure on the ballot.
The five-business-day reply period is explicitly required by statute, Lemman added, meaning that it can't be changed.
Penny Okamoto, director of Ceasefire Oregon, a group that supports the measure, said she wasn't ready to admit defeat, but acknowledged meeting the deadline was unlikely.
"We are planning to move forward, if not through IP43 then through another way," Okamoto said, listing legislative action in 2019 or a 2020 ballot measure as other possibilities.
If it fails, the initiative will be the second high-profile gun control measure to have been blocked via court delays this year.
Supporters last week halted efforts on another measure, IP 44, saying that even though they were able to overcome challenges to the proposal's language, doing so took up so much time that they couldn't gather the signatures to get it onto the ballot before the deadline.
The measure would have required guns to be locked up in storage, and it made owners liable if they were misused by someone who found them unlocked.
A spokesman for the NRA, which was part of the legal challenges to both measures, said via email that the group welcomed Wednesday's ruling, and criticized IP 43 for being overly broad.