In my previous writings, I have painted a picture of the impacts of Measure 114 on responsible gun owners. I have followed this slow-moving train wreck for the past few years. All the way back before it was even a ballot initiative IP 17. As an educator, instructor, and an advocate. I felt a huge responsibility to my fellow gun owners to sound the alarm to raise concerns. Throughout this process, I have met many great people of which many I consider friends now. We worked hard together to educate as many people as we could about how dangerous measure 114 is to us. A few of the fatal flaws that we faced were the permit to purchase the part and the way that it criminalizes the possession of magazines of 99% of the firearms that we currently own. The chief petitioners and the authors of this bill are either really dumb or smart like foxes. I would say that they are really dumb because they lack the most basic understanding of firearms or firearms ownership. It has led us to a situation where there have been millions of tax revenue frivolously defending the indefensible. All while not saving a single life.

November 8th, 2022 came, and measure 114 passed by less than 1%. That equated to only about 20,000 votes from all over the state with an estimated 180,000 registered Republicans that chose to stay home and not vote. It was set to go into effect and become law on December 8th, 2022. On December 6th, 2022, we received a gift. This gift came in the form of a TRO (temporary restraining order) out of a state court in Harney County. There was a lawsuit filed there by a young attorney named Anthony Aiello. I remember making 2 trips over there to Burns to watch the proceedings firsthand so I could report relevant information to a Facebook group that I run that has nearly 88k Oregon gun owners in it. I watched a fair judge work through the process while giving our young a little grace on a few procedures all while he argued our case against the state’s hired litigators. They were a machine. It was really hard to watch and remain calm. I was so invested at that point. I literally had hundreds of hours into my advocacy work at that point. We were awarded a short reprieve and there was a trial scheduled for September. The TRO remained in place, and the status quo remains.

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As the months went by I developed a friendship with Anthony and his family. I really enjoyed helping him connect the dots. I was able to use my network to help make the introductions that he needed to prepare for trial. It has always been my view that my rolodex is for others as well. It was fun to see his progress in preparation. While I didn’t know the entire game plan I trusted him. I helped set up with a few expert witnesses and made a few connections for him. Then in August, I was asked to provide testimony at the state trial. I was honored!! What will I say? How could I help? These are all the thoughts that raced through my mind. I was scared. This is something that I had never done before. I spent a lot of time preparing for my testimony because it is something that took very seriously. I felt tremendous pressure, it was the weight of all of my people. I didn’t want to let them down.

When I say my people I mean my fellow gun owners. Over the past few years, we have made big organizational progress toward building a more effective advocacy group. It started when I turned on a camera for the first time. I broadcasted into the group for the very first time and I wasn’t sure how it would go. It was wild at first. So many different opinions no real direction, it was a free for all! Soon I started doing these livestreams pretty frequently. I began to build trust in the group. I enjoyed our conversations. It really helped me get my thoughts out and helped educate the members of the group. We were becoming more organized and were finding our way.

September finally came around and I was juggling a few different commitments for business had me in Oregon, Washington, and finished my trip off in Arizona. I finished on a Sunday afternoon in Centralia Washington and headed directly for Burns after finishing a kids class. I drove for 6 hours and arrived at my hotel around 10:00 p.m. The state trial for measure 114 was set to begin the following morning September 18th, 2023, nearly 1 year after its passage. I couldn’t sleep well the night before, it was the nerves mostly. I made my way to the courthouse early. I took a short walk in the sun to gather my thoughts for what I was about to go through. I met a few of the locals who had taken the time to be there to show support for our attorney. I must say that for all of the time that I had spent in eastern Oregon, I really enjoyed meeting the people over there. They were definitely the salt-of-the-earth type of folks. It was refreshing since I am from the valley.

The state trial for measure 114 started on a Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. There were 2 of our attorneys and a literal football squad-sized team of attorneys that represented the state. Mind you they were all taxpayer-funded. It was maddening. The day started with some procedural type stuff. I was sitting in the front row with another of our expert witnesses. I saw Tony pass a binder with exhibits to the other side. There was a flurry of activity. As I watched my heart sank. My website popped up on a number of their computers. They were doing a deep dive on me. They quickly found this very blog and started scrolling. This was a very uncomfortable situation for me and I tried really hard to block it all out so I could focus on my upcoming testimony. I was so nervous at that time, I was shaking. I then heard my name called. It was “GO” time!! As I approached the stand, the judge stood up and made me raise my right. I was sworn in and I took a seat. As I looked out into the crowd I tried to find a familiar face that could help keep me calm. Tony began with his line of questioning. I covered my history, and what I do in regards to the safety of the public and children. I felt that my facts were solid. Very quickly the state objected and put us on our heels. They requested that we turn over all emails and text messages for discovery. This was a tactic that really shocked our team and unfortunately, the judge obliged their request. We took a short recess so we could turn over the information. This wasn’t a normal request but merely part of this game that both sides would play. It was all about scoring points on each other. The goal is to score enough to win in the eyes of the judge. The state was also working towards discrediting my testimony to score points.

After the break, we continued with the questioning. I felt that it was going pretty well. I saw comforting faces in the crowd. Tony rested and now it was their turn. This is where I was beginning to get bumpy. Some of their questions were trying to lead me in a direction, a gotcha-type moment. I did not fall for it. I was able to push back and hold my own. They then dropped a grenade, the silver-tongued devil in a fancy suit, and requested that we turn over all of our text messages for discovery. This was shocking to us all and there was a fight over it. Once again the judge obliged and gave in to their demands. This was definitely not normal. We took a break for lunch and the 90 minutes seemed like an eternity. We turned over everything and what a waste of time, there was literally nothing damning. They were trying to get in our heads. We went back and forth, I stood tall. I did not waiver, I could see the frustrations in his body language. We were winning. Then what seemed like slow motion I saw one of the support attorneys pass a lifeline in the form of a post-it note to the lead attorney handling my cross-examination. He quickly changed course and asked me one question. I answered “Yes.” The defense rested. He slit my proverbial throat. Point 1 for them

Our side had the chance to rebut. That is where we went through the facts. We tightened up the information for the record and we scored some major points when it comes to individual rights. This was a big win for us. We were able to get back ZERO and I felt better about it. That was until the news stories started coming out. The media did a really effective job of demonizing me. Once again it is all part of this game that we are playing court. What I want to make really clear is that I am not perfect. I am human. I have made mistakes. I own them!! The hard part was how something that has no actual bearing on the hearing was more to score points on ME. That hurt. The ones who impugn my character have no idea of the value that I provide to the state of Oregon. I was really sad for a few days after. The next day, though was a new day. The trial continued and ended up closing the following Monday. I want to make sure that I give credit to our legal team. Tony Aiello and Tyler Smith from Smith Rural Attorneys did a phenomenal job standing up for the rights of Oregon gun owners. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. We are now in a holding pattern on what the judge will rule. It is our hope that he will be reasonable and give us the ruling that we need. At the end of the day, I am honored to have had the opportunity to be a voice for my people. It was a learning experience, one I’m not sure that I would do again. I can at least say that I did it though. I was the man in the arena and for that, I will continue to hold my head high. Until next time. Be safe!!