Adams considers Portland ban on public display of fake guns

Adams considers Portland ban on public display of fake guns »Play Video
Replica guns, like this one, look very much like real ones.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Mayor Sam Adams is considering a ban on the public display of realistic-looking fake guns.

Since the start of the year, Portland police have shot two suspects who held replica guns. Bradley Morgan died from a single gunshot wound to the head after a standoff with police on top of a parking garage in January. And officers shot 31-year-old Jonah Potter last week near Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland.

Police said Potter also used his replica gun in an armed robbery the day before.

The city of Beaverton has had a similar ordinance in place for five years and according to a spokesman for the Beaverton Police Department, Mike Rowe, it is working quite well.

He said he's noticed there are fewer crimes committed with them and no officer-involved shootings involving them since rules went into place prohibiting displays of replica guns in public or near schools.

Adams said the recent shootings show the need for something like Beaverton's ordinance.

Matt Rowell, an Airsoft firearm expert, has produced numerous videos showing how the fake, but real-looking firearms, are used responsibly. He runs a website for replica gun owners and is dedicated to teaching, mostly kids, about replica gun dangers.

Rowell said he can't disagree with the need for an ordinance like Beaverton's as long as it is not an all-out ban on replica handguns and rifles.

Adams says that's not his intent.

"I wanted to look at it. I want to reduce the amount of force that our police officers have to use," he said. "You know, when someone is springing up or suddenly pulls out a weapon that looks like a real gun, our officers have very few options other than to defend themselves."

"I think an ordinance is a way to just warn parents that, 'wow, I can be fined if I buy this replica, and I allow my son or daughter to play with it without being supervised,'" Rowell said. "You shouldn't be walking around in public with these things."

Adams said so far he's not getting much push back from Second Amendment folks or replica gun enthusiasts.

The Beaverton ordinance says that anyone who displays a replica gun publicly can be fined $250. If the weapon's orange tip is modified to look real and shown in public, the fine doubles to $500.

Repeat offenses or bringing them within 1,000 feet of a school is a misdemeanor crime and the person could be arrested and jailed.

It would not be illegal to own a replica gun or even carry it in public if it is in a case. People would still be allowed to fire it in their own yards as long as pellets or paint balls are not shot into neighboring properties.