A Medford man and his Gresham buddy have made their point: They are legally permitted to walk around in public with loaded rifles slung over their backs. Now they should take their guns home, grow up and refrain from such stunts in the future.
Warren R. Drouin, of Medford, and his friend Steven M. Boyce, of Gresham, both 22, caused public alarm and prompted police officers to respond when they strolled through downtown Gresham and down a Southeast Portland street Thursday with semiautomatic rifles over their shoulders. Worried residents called 911 and a school went into lockdown until police responded and determined there was no threat.
No citations were issued against either man, because they have valid concealed handgun licenses. They were carrying rifles, not handguns, and the rifles were not concealed.
A Portland city ordinance prohibits carrying loaded firearms in public areas. But state law says concealed handgun license holders are exempt from any such restrictions.
What the two young men did is perfectly legal. That doesn't make it right. It's irresponsible, it's juvenile and it's stupid.
Drouin has done this kind of thing many times before in Medford, each time generating a police response. Medford police have received 67 complaints since June 2011 involving Drouin openly carrying a rifle or handgun or both in public places, including parks and businesses.
The police have no choice in these situations. Legal or not, an unidentified person carrying a gun in a public place could represent a threat to public safety.
In the wake of mass shootings such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., it's understandable that people are alarmed to see someone walking down the street carrying an assault weapon.
The police understandably are not amused by Drouin's actions.
"Being legal does not mean it is a wise thing to do," Medford Police Chief Tim George told The Oregonian. "Responsible firearms owners would not and don't do this."
Not only does it tie up police resources that might be needed for a real emergency situation, but it risks an armed confrontation with another citizen who perceives a threat.
That's where the stupidity comes in. Suppose another citizen who happened to be carrying a loaded gun saw Drouin with his rifle and decided he posed a threat. That could turn a peaceful stroll into an armed confrontation very quickly.
Not only is Drouin needlessly alarming people and wasting police time, but if he's not careful, he could find himself looking down the barrel of someone else's Second Amendment rights.