Saturday, January 27, 2007

Council fills in gaps for toy airsoft gun ban

Eric Motto brought the City Council a duffel bag full of guns.
The Beaverton father wanted to know whether a proposed city ordinance would mean his sons couldn't play with a fake plastic shotgun that makes a tiny blasting noise when the trigger is pulled?
How about a hand-carved unpainted wooden rifle? What about a clear plastic airsoft gun with blaze-orange tip that shoots plastic pellets?
Motto, his wife, Kimberly, and their teenage son, Zachary, asked the council whether the dozen or so boys in their Highland neighborhood could continue their war games up and down the block.
"It's just part of what boys do," Zachary told councilors.
During a two-hour public hearing Monday night on a proposal to ban replica guns in public, the council heard from eight people. One wanted the city to go further and ban the guns altogether. Another thought the entire idea was absurd and opposed any ban.
But the rest, like the Motto family, thought parts of the ordinance were good and other parts were confusing or unnecessary.
Dave Chaney, for example, said war re-enactors and veterans marching in parades could be banned from carrying simulated firearms.
The answer from City Attorney Alan Rappleyea was that there is leeway in the ordinance, which prohibits any replica that "substantially resembles a firearm." The ordinance is aimed primarily at airsoft guns but doesn't specify.
A 7-year-old playing with a plastic gun in the street during the middle of the day might be OK, Rappleyea said. But a 16-year-old waving a plastic gun from a car window in the middle of the night is another thing.
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