It was standing room only at the City Council chamber in Ashland last night, as elected officials heard from supporters and opponents of a proposed gun control ordinance. After passionate pleading from both sides, the council voted to take the next step toward enacting the law.
The packed public hearing was held to consider a new law to prohibit openly carrying loaded firearms in public. The proposal would exempt those with concealed weapon permits, as well as law enforcement officers and others whose employment requires them to carry weapons.
The mostly-respectful crowd included nearly a dozen gun owners openly carrying their weapons. Among them were Medford residents Christopher and Sherry Lloyd. Christopher said he open-carries in part as a matter of principal.
Christopher Lloyd: “It’s our constitutional right. I mean, Our founding fathers gave us this right, millions of soldiers have died and given their blood or limbs to protect the rights that we have and protect our way of live, and I’m not going to have it infringed.”
Lloyd said he also feels it’s important to be able to protect himself and others at any time. His wife Sherry said she carries because she was once victimized.
Sherry Lloyd: “It was a very long time ago when I was in high school, and I could not do anything about it. Now I can. It’s not going to happen again.”
Some at the hearing expressed discomfort with people openly carrying firearms. Steve Richey said, on the contrary …
Steve Richey: I actually feel safer when I see a respectful individual open carrying, because I know that is a person who knows their rights, respects gun safety and is trained with a firearm.”
Not all gun owners agreed. Andy Kubik, who said he’s had guns for nearly 40 years, chided the open-carry crowd.
Andy Kubik: “It’s a deadly weapon. You don’t play with it, it’s not a toy, it’s not a political tool and it’s not a prop.”
Rochelle Newman questioned the need for firearms in public in a town as generally safe as Ashland.
Rochelle Newman: “There are no real reasons to carry weapons to the Green Shows, Shakespeare productions, outdoor sports, music concerts or sidewalk cafes.”
Others urges the city council to adopt the ordinance as a matter of public safety.
A number of Oregon cities, including Portland, Beaverton and Salem have similar ordinances. The Oregon Supreme Court recently upheld Portland’s law.
After the hearing, the Ashland City Council directed legal staff to draw up an ordinance for a possible vote at a future date.