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City Council mulls gun restrictions

The Ashland City Council will discuss whether to take on the controversial issue of gun restrictions during a study session that starts at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The study session will be held in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

Study sessions are usually held in a smaller room in the Community Development Department building near Lithia Park, but city officials expect a large turnout for Monday's meeting.

The council can't vote to adopt or reject proposed gun restrictions during the study session, but councilors can decide whether to ask city staff to gather up more information on the issue and schedule the topic for a future regular meeting.

A group called Citizens for a Safe Ashland has proposed that the city ban the carrying of loaded guns in public, including in a vehicle in a public place. The group also wants a ban on the carrying of loaded ammunition clips or magazines in public.

Oregon law allows people to carry loaded weapons in public, as long as they don't try to conceal them. People can carry concealed weapons with a permit.

Several cities have banned the open carrying of loaded guns in public.

If Ashland followed suit, some people would be exempted, including police officers, concealed-handgun permit holders and people firing at public or private shooting ranges, according to ordinance language drafted by Citizens for a Safe Ashland.

The group also wants to make it a misdemeanor to fail to stop a child from gaining access to a loaded or unloaded gun without the permission of the gun owner, parent or guardian.

To prevent access, gun owners could keep their guns locked up or equip them with a trigger lock, for example.

The gun rights group Oregon Firearms Federation has argued that Ashland lacks the authority to dictate how gun owners store their weapons.

The group has vowed to sue Ashland if it enacts regulations governing gun storage.

Cities are allowed to pass laws banning the carrying of loaded weapons in public, according to the Oregon Firearms Federation, but the group opposes those restrictions.

In other business during the study session, the council will discuss granting a conservation easement on the city-owned, 846-acre Imperatrice property across Interstate 5 from town.

For more information about agenda items for the study session, visit http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=16051.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.