Gun-carrying community member raises concerns
A number of Woodburn residents have been alarmed this week by the site of a man brandishing a firearm in public.
One social media post earlier this week (apparently since deleted) included a picture of a man holding what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle in the Woodburn Premium Outlet mall parking lot. A Woodburn Independent reader also phoned, reporting that a man was parading across the I-5 overpass carrying a similar weapon.
Woodburn Police and the city of Woodburn have also received similar reports from concerned residents. Woodburn City Administrator Scott Derickson said the spectacle has been a cause of alarm.
"There have been some community questions about people who have been carrying firearms in public in Woodburn. ... People who are open carrying or demonstrating or advocating for second-amendment rights and show up to a place in the city with weapons," Derickson said.
The city administrator asked Woodburn Police Chief Jim Ferraris to apprise the Woodburn City Council about the situation during its Monday meeting.
Ferraris said the police are aware of some gun-toting attention seekers, but added that they have not broken any laws.
"We have had some reports of folks carrying firearms in the city in public places in open display. Oregon is an open-carry state and does not regulate the open carry of firearms in public places or premises open to the public," Ferraris told the council.
The chief indicated that WPD has made contact those involved and are monitoring the situation.
"There are a couple of folks that are well known to us that we get a lot of calls on (and) that understand the law," Ferraris said. "We make sure they stay within the law; they push it to the boundary, but they do stay within the law, so there is little we can do from a police standpoint."
The chief said he understands how the sight of someone openly carrying an assault weapon in public is unsettling, and that his department is keeping an eye on it to the extent it can.
"It does cause some fear and alarm within our community when people see folks with long guns on sidewalks and in business districts and neighborhoods," Ferraris said. "That's the world we live in, and those are the laws we have in the books today.
"We monitor those situations and keep tabs on it. ... Quite honestly, the folks that have been engaged in that legal conduct have been pretty darned cooperative with us."
Ferraris added that while there has been public alarm, there have not been any violations.
Derickson posed: "What should somebody do if they see somebody (with a gun) and are alarmed?"
Ferraris said he does not discourage people from calling the police.
"Well, they can certainly call the police," Ferraris said. "We encourage people if they see someone with a firearm (to call), because to the contrary, it could be someone who is engaged in some criminal activity. It could be a robber; it could be a burglar or some other criminal; or it could be a law abiding citizen. Call and we will check on it."
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