|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Our Opinion: Open carry is still allowed — and still a bad idea

    Ashland councilors made a responsible choice. Gun owners should do the same
  • The Ashland City Council's decision not to ban the open carry of firearms in public was a rational choice, under the circumstances. That doesn't mean openly carrying loaded guns is a good idea.
    • email print
      Comment
  • The Ashland City Council's decision not to ban the open carry of firearms in public was a rational choice, under the circumstances. That doesn't mean openly carrying loaded guns is a good idea.
    The issue arose in Ashland not because gun owners were in the habit of openly carrying in public, but because a group of residents petitioned the City Council to enact a ban.
    Oregon law allows openly carrying loaded guns in public, but some municipalities prohibit it. Holders of concealed handgun licenses are exempt, so those are not absolute bans, and the state Supreme Court has ruled such restrictions constitutional for that reason.
    The mere fact that Ashland was considering such a ban, of course, prompted outrage from gun-rights advocates, some of whom proceeded to walk around Ashland with their guns and bring them to council meetings. This understandably made others uncomfortable.
    Those who favor a ban on open carry will see Tuesday's council vote as caving in to gun-rights activists, and in a way it is. At the same time, the council has to consider the best interest of the city, which depends on tourism for the bulk of its economy.
    Enacting a ban at the start of the summer tourist season would virtually guarantee that some concealed handgun license holders would flaunt their exemption from the ban by openly carrying their guns, and public demonstrations by gun enthusiasts against the ban would be likely as well. That's not the kind of spectacle Ashland needs.
    It's important to note here that those gun owners who insist on openly displaying their firepower are a small minority of gun owners as a whole. Anyone who feels the need to carry a gun for personal protection can obtain a concealed handgun license.
    Responsible gun owners know that open carry does not make anyone safer, and could conceivably increase the likelihood of someone getting shot. It is impossible for anyone — including the police — to know whether a person walking down the street carrying a rifle is a "good guy with a gun" or a "bad guy with a gun."
    When a citizen calls police to report someone carrying a gun in public — a perfectly rational action these days — the police have no choice but to respond to determine whether the person poses a threat. Without a ban on open carry, that is more likely to occur, and is a waste of police time and resources.
    A person openly carrying a gun near a school is likely to cause a security alert, a lockdown — and possibly a shooting, if an armed person nearby perceives them as a threat.
    The Second Amendment is not and never has been absolute. That's why it is illegal to carry a gun aboard an airliner, into a courthouse, or into a private business that chooses to prohibit guns.
    Oregon gives law-abiding gun owners the right to carry openly in public, but with rights come responsibilities — meaning not pushing the issue. Gun-rights activists should take Tuesday's council vote for the victory that it is, and do the responsible thing — leave their guns at home unless they choose to carry them concealed, with the proper license.
    Parading around with a loaded gun to prove a point isn't responsible. It's just being a jerk.
Reader Reaction

      calendar