The Ashland City Council has directed the city's legal department to draft an ordinance for potential future council approval that would ban openly carrying loaded guns in public places, but not inside people's vehicles.
The council took the action Tuesday night after listening to dozens of people who were divided on whether Ashland should adopt gun regulations.
Councilors Carol Voisin, Pam Marsh, Dennis Slattery and Mike Morris voted for the creation of a draft ordinance, while Councilors Greg Lemhouse and Rich Rosenthal voted against the move.
However, there is no guarantee the ordinance will ultimately win passage.
Slattery said he voted for an ordinance to be drafted for future consideration because he wants more time to mull over the issue. Morris expressed misgivings, but eventually voted to take the step after a ban on carrying loaded weapons in private vehicles in public places was removed from the proposal.
Certain groups of people, including police officers and people with concealed gun permits, would still be allowed to carry guns in public.
Similar bans on the open carrying of loaded weapons in public have been passed in various Oregon cities, including Portland.
Some councilors said they feared passing a ban would prompt gun rights activists to descend on Ashland to openly display their weapons in public.
Several pro-gun rights audience members nodded their heads, affirming they also believe passage of the ordinance will prompt more people to carry loaded weapons in public.
Numerous audience members were armed with guns.
A council majority voted against asking staff to develop an ordinance that would require gun owners to keep their weapons stored in a way that prevents access by children.
State law prohibits local jurisdictions from passing such laws governing home storage.