Ashland pares down proposed gun laws

The Ashland City Council will discuss a draft gun control ordinance that is significantly scaled back from proposals put forward by a group called Citizens for a Safe Ashland.

The discussion will come during a study session that follows a regular council meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Normally, the council would have a study session tonight, but the council is not meeting that night because of the Presidents' Day holiday.

On Feb. 3, councilors directed City Attorney Dave Lohman to draft a gun-regulation ordinance that could be legally defensible if adopted by the council or put before Ashland voters.

Citizens for a Safe Ashland has proposed a ban on the possession of loaded weapons in public, plus a requirement that gun owners store their weapons in a manner that prevents unauthorized access by youths.

An ordinance drafted by Lohman includes the ban on loaded weapons in public, but eliminates regulations on gun storage.

Other Oregon cities have banned the possession of loaded weapons in public. Portland's ban has been upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court.

Lohman previously warned the council that an ordinance covering gun storage could cause Ashland to be sued by gun-rights supporters, leading to expensive legal battles.

During the Tuesday night study session, the council cannot vote on whether to adopt the ban on loaded weapons in public. It could decide to drop the matter or schedule the issue for a public hearing in March.

Study sessions are open to the public, but input is not generally allowed.

Ashland's legal department prepared a list of gun regulation pros and cons for councilors to consider.


  • Could enhance public safety by reducing likelihood of gun-related violence.
  • Although enforcement of gun storage rules and a ban on loaded weapons in public would be difficult, citizens may voluntarily comply and increase safety.
  • Could decrease the number of minors gaining access to guns.
  • Even if not enforceable, could pass a message to the Oregon Legislature about citizen wishes.
  • Ashland would likely not be sued for adopting a ban on the possession of loaded guns in public.
  • Might cause gun owners to be more aware of citizens' fears about guns in public places.
  • Might attract more visitors to Ashland.


  • Could result in lengthy legal battles so costly that they would impact the city budget and services.
  • Could reduce safety by suggesting that criminal activity in public will not be met with citizens' armed resistance.
  • Enforcement of ban against carrying loaded weapons in public may be difficult because of potential legal challenges from stopping and searching gun owners.
  • Might alienate law-abiding, responsible gun owners.
  • Might result in fewer visitors to Ashland.
  • Could have no safety effect because the incidence of gun-related crimes and accidents in Ashland is low.
  • May have little impact on minor access to guns because such incidents are believed to be rare.

For more details on the regular meeting and the study session to follow on Tuesday night, visit

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or Follow her at

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