A group of Ashland residents has launched an online petition calling for local gun restrictions, prompting an Oregon gun rights group to threaten a lawsuit and urge an economic boycott of the city.
The Ashland City Council will learn more about the proposed gun control regulations during a study session on Feb. 3.
A group called Citizens for a Safe Ashland has gathered more than 165 signatures on its online petition posted on www.change.org.
It is calling for city regulations banning people from openly carrying loaded firearms in public places, including in vehicles in public areas.
Certain groups, such as police officers and people with concealed handgun licenses, would be exempt.
Citizens for a Safe Ashland also want to make it illegal for a person to fail to prevent access by a minor to a loaded or unloaded firearm without the permission of the gun owner and the minor's parent or a guardian.
The person would need to keep the gun locked away, for example.
The regulations would not apply if the gun is equipped with a locking device that prevents minors or unauthorized users from firing it, according to proposed ordinance language drafted by Citizens for a Safe Ashland.
Kevin Starrett, executive director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, has called on gun rights supporters to avoid spending their vacation dollars in Ashland.
"It would be foolish for gun owners to go there because they could be charged with a crime," Starrett said. "Why spend money in a place that treats you like a criminal for exercising your Second Amendment rights?"
The Oregon Firearms Federation, which has a logo of an assault rifle superimposed on a map of the state, bills itself as "Oregon's only no compromise gun lobby."
Starrett said Oregonians are legally allowed to carry guns in public as long as they make no attempt to conceal the weapons.
People who carry hidden guns must have concealed weapons permits.
Starrett said localities are allowed to require people to unload guns that they carry openly in public.
Several Oregon cities already have local laws prohibiting openly carrying loaded guns in public places, according to Citizens for a Safe Ashland. Portland and Multnomah County have additional laws making it illegal to endanger a child by allowing unauthorized access to a firearm, the group said.
Starrett said he does not believe that it is legal for local jurisdictions to impose laws on how gun owners store their weapons. He said only the state government has that power.
The Oregon Firearms Federation will sue the city of Ashland if it enacts laws governing gun storage, Starrett vowed.
To view the gun regulations petition and read proposed ordinance language, visit www.change.org/petitions/the-city-council-of-ashland-oregon-adopt-moderate-practical-gun-safety-ordinances-2.
— Vickie Aldous
Read more in Thursday's paper.