First up is Medford. Here's what's happened so far.
Medford has no ordinances regulating firearms. But the Parks and Recreation department has "park rules" posted online and posted on signs at some parks which prohibit firearms....PERIOD. That's not allowed per ORS 166.170 and 173
INITIAL MESSAGE SENT TO THE DIRECTOR OF PARKS AND RECREATION
Sent 9 June 2015 at 5:59pm
It has come to my attention that the park rules for City of Medford Parks contain a provision that is prohibited by state law (ORS 166.170) and that this prohibited provision, posted online and physically at at least some parks, could cause serious safety issues. At issue is the prohibition of firearms from public park areas.
I would like to know whether you are aware of this error in the rules and what corrective action is being taken.
RESPONSE FROM Mr. SOJTHUN (Parks director)
Received 10 June 2015 at 7:31am WOW FAST response even if it is "pass the buck"
> I have forwarded your concerns to the Legal Department for their direction.
> Thank you,
> Brian Sjothun
MY RESPONSE TO Mr. SJOTHUN
Sent 10 June 2015 @ 1:39pm
Thank you for your quick response. Please let me know what the legal department says.
CITY ATTORNEYS RESPONSE TO ME
Received 10 June 2015 @ 4:03pm WOW again a fast response, though she's missed the point (that I wasn't supper clear on just to test the waters).
> Thank you for your e-mail.
> State law gives local jurisdictions some authority to regulate or prohibit firearms in public places.
> ORS 166.173 says:
> (1) A city or county may adopt ordinances to regulate, restrict or prohibit the possession of loaded firearms in public places as defined in ORS 161.015.
> (2) Ordinances adopted under subsection (1) of this section do not apply to or affect:
> (a) A law enforcement officer in the performance of official duty.
> (b) A member of the military in the performance of official duty.
> (c) A person licensed to carry a concealed handgun.
> (d) A person authorized to possess a loaded firearm while in or on a public building or court facility under ORS 166.370.
> (e) An employee of the United States Department of Agriculture, acting within the scope of employment, who possesses a loaded firearm in the course of the lawful taking of wildlife. [1995 s.s. c.1 §4; 1999 c.782 §8; 2009 c.556 §3]
> Medford city parks are considered public places under state law, so the city can prohibit loaded firearms in city parks (except for concealed carry permit holders).
> Thank you -
> Lori J. Cooper
> City Attorney
AND MY RESPONSE BACK TO THE CITY ATTORNEY
Sent June 12 2015 @ 12:05am
Thank you for the quick response. However, while I agree that ORS 166.173 grants the city authority to ban the loaded carry of firearms by non CHL holders, the issue at hand does not comply with 166.173 or 166.170.
The prohibition is a complete prohibition per both the rules published online and the signs posted in the parks. Cities have not been given the "express authority" required by ORS 166.170 to prohibit firearms entirely nor to prohibit non CHL holders from carrying unloaded firearms. Under ORS 166.173, as you stated in your reply, only the carry of LOADED firearms by non CHL holders can be prohibited.
In addition, the park rules are not an ordinance but merely park rules. I find no city ordinance, the requirement for prohibitions under ORS 166.173, authorizing any park rules let alone a prohibition on firearms. In the absence of a city ordinance prohibiting loaded carry of firearms by non CHL holders, the park rules are void per ORS 166.170 (2).
This puts citizens, the city, and police officers in a difficult, possibly dangerous, and potentially expensive position. The average citizen, after reading the posted rules and then seeing another individual carrying a perfectly lawful weapon, may very well call 911 to report the "crime." At best, this wastes the limited resources of the police and 911 call center. At worst, it can quickly escalate, through any of a number of entirely plausible scenarios, into a deadly and/or expensive situation.