Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Beaverton City Council sets sights on replica gun (airsoft gun) ban ordinance

BEAVERTON - The public will have a chance to weigh in Monday night on the city’s plan to prohibit airsoft guns and other realistic looking toy firearms from public places.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed replica firearm ordinance during its regular meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.

If approved, the ordinance would regulate possession of replica firearms in public places including highways, streets, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds, public transportation centers and common areas of apartments and hotels.

Under the ordinance, a replica firearm is any toy or imitation that substantially duplicates a lethal firearm or can reasonably be perceived to be an actual firearm, said Ted Naemura, assistant city attorney.

“The ordinance would prevent an airsoft gun from being visible in public places and seen by others who would likely mistake it as a real gun,” Naemura said. “This is an effort to reduce public alarm and prevent someone from being hurt.”

The rules would not apply to brightly colored toy guns or those constructed of transparent or translucent materials.

Beaverton’s toy gun ban ordinance is being proposed by the Police Department in light of an increasing number of incidents in which police officers responding to calls drew their guns on people carrying replica firearms that had a striking resemblance to a real weapon.

“This has become a serious problem, and we want to address it before someone is seriously injured or killed,” said Beaverton Police Chief David Bishop.

“The purpose of this ordinance is to foster a safe environment for our community, the officers who respond to the calls and are put in the position to make the decision to shoot or not shoot, and also for the individuals displaying the fake firearms in a public place or school, who put themselves at great risk.”

If approved by the council, violation of the ordinance could lead to police seizing the replica firearm being displayed in a public area and a fine of no less than $250.

If the offense involves a replica firearm that has its blaze orange tip removed or covered with paint, tape or a similar opaque substance, the person carrying the toy gun faces a fine of no less than $500.

Those who are spotted carrying a replica firearm on school property will face a Class C misdemeanor under the proposed ordinance.

Anyone who previously has been convicted of violating the ordinance within five years would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

If adopted by the City Council, Beaverton would be the first Oregon city to put such rules in place.

For more information about the proposed ordinance, check the city’s Web site,

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