Downtown Vancouver

'Open Carry' law controversy: gun owner cited

A Vancouver man was cited Friday for wearing his pistol in a grocery store even though it's legal to carry a gun in Washington and Oregon.

The incident is part of a growing controversy over what's called the "Open Carry" law and highlights the debate over people openly wearing firearms in public places.

While police said it is legal in Washington and Oregon to openly carry firearms in public places, Kurt Kirby was ticketed by Vancouver Police on Friday outside an Albertsons on East 4th Plain after shopping with his loaded semiautomatic pistol holstered on his waist.

The owner of the nearby martial arts studio called 9-1-1, and according to the police report, the owner was alarmed because he teaches small children and was concerned for their safety.

The police officer cited Kirby under the law that says it is wrong to carry a weapon if it "manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons."

Gun rights advocates said there has been an increase in "open carry" cases in response to gun control groups that have tried to pressure Starbucks to forbid guns in its stores.

"I think that people who believe in open carry say, 'we're going to have a reaction to that reaction, and ... we're going to carry more openly and more often," said Cliff Nutting, a gun rights activist.

Kirby declined to speak to the media Monday on advice from his attorney, but according to the police report, Kirby told officers he's openly carried his gun into several stores in recent months without a problem.

But according to the police report, the day before being cited Kirby had a run-in with security at the Vancouver Mall. He and his wife were escorted from the mall by security after shoppers complained about their weapons strapped to their waists.

According to the police report, the Kirbys were belligerent, perhaps trying to argue that they were not breaking any laws.

According to opencarry.org, 43 states allow some form of open carry.