- Associated Press - Monday, February 17, 2014

ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Ashland City Council will discuss a pared-down gun control ordinance that bans the possession of loaded weapons in public but drops other proposed measures.

A group of Ashland residents has asked the council to ban carrying loaded guns openly in public and to require guns to be stored so that children can’t get to them, The Daily Tidings reported (https://bit.ly/1ftPllJ ).

A council study session is scheduled for Tuesday night. The public may attend but not give input.

Carrying a loaded weapon in public is legal in Oregon if a person does not try to conceal the weapon. People who carry concealed guns must have permits.

But cities can require that weapons carried openly be unloaded, and a number have done so, city attorney David Lohman said.

Portland’s ban on loaded weapons in public has been upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court. But Lohman said the risk of litigation would come if an officer stopped and searched somebody, leading to an arrest, conviction and challenge to the officer’s reasonable suspicion.

Ashland’s legal department says the ordinance could send a message to the Legislature about the community’s wishes, but it says there may be no net impact on safety because gun-related incidents in the city are already low.

Police Chief Terry Holderness said that in the last five years, Ashland has seen nine robberies in which a gun was displayed and two felony assault cases where a gun was fired. Local gun regulations are up to the council and the community, Holderness said.

Among the city legal department’s findings are that the measure could both help and hurt tourism in the small southern Oregon town. It also found that the measure could limit children’s access to guns, but also “alienate law-abiding, responsible gun owners.”

The council can’t take action immediately. At this point, it could decide to drop the matter or schedule the issue for a public hearing in March.

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