ASHLAND, Ore. – Vigo Fox rarely exercises his right to carry, but he doesn’t want to give it up either.
“I carry because I believe in the very real concept and principal of personal responsibility,” said Fox.
Fox wears his sidearm openly by his hip as he strolls through Ashland Plaza, something he can legally do without a concealed weapons permit.
Under the proposed ordinance, he would still be allowed to wear his gun, he just couldn’t have it loaded.
“The intent is simply to say if you don’t have a concealed weapons permit, you aren’t a law enforcement officer, you can’t carry a loaded firearm in public,” said City Manager Dave Kanner.
The idea, brought to the council by a public petition from the group Citizens for a Safe Ashland, is based on existing laws in about a dozen other Oregon cities.
Those laws have withstood multiple court appeals, but admittedly rarely go enforced.
“There is no way of knowing without actually removing the clip and examining it that the clip is unloaded,” said Kanner. “Enforcement would be difficult, no question about it.”
Meanwhile, Ashland has never had a problem with gun safety. In the past five years there have been a total of 11 crimes involving firearms. The gun was actually fired in two of those.
Supporters of the measure say the initiative is common sense and only represents a minor inconvenience. They also point out that it wouldn’t change anything for those with a concealed weapons permit.
But Fox says regardless of whether the proposal is significant or purely symbolic, the right to carry is something gun owners don’t take lightly.
“I reserve my right to have the capacity to defend myself,” said Fox.
Tuesday’s city council meeting is not a vote, but rather a study session. That means if there is enough interest from the council, it could go to a vote as early as April 1.