Open carry law tested near Ore. schools

9-19-13-open carry in hillsboro2
The Hillsboro street near several schools where a man carrying a shotgun slung over his back was seen Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — Hillsboro parents such as Catherine Weiss want to know why a man was walking near their kids’ schools with a shotgun slung over his back — and why police aren’t doing anything about it.

“Any man with a gun walking around schools period, especially in my area, is terrifying,” Weiss said.

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A man openly carried a shotgun outside this Hillsboro school Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

That man put those in the Hillsboro school district on alert Thursday. Voicemail alerts were sent to parents and schools went on lockout.

The scare started near Century High School in Hillsboro. Hillsboro police told KOIN 6 News that, while it may be alarming to see a weapon near a school, what the man was doing was perfectly legal.

Police told KOIN 6 News the man was out with his shotgun both Tuesday and Thursday — and was doing it just to prove a point.

“A man in the area has been demonstrating his right to bear arms,” explained a voice-mail message to parents from the school district. “…The Hillsboro School District is working closely with local law enforcement to ensure that your students are safe while at school.”

9-19-13-open carry in hillsboro3Police said they were called and were able to make contact with the man at a park near Century High. He did not identify himself to police, and police said they had no legal reason to ask for his ID. Sgt. Eric Bunday with the Hillsboro Police Department said the man was legally following the state’s open-carry law.

“As long as they’re out on the sidewalk, and not on school property, they are allowed to carry a firearm openly in the state of Oregon,” said Sgt. Eric Bunday with the Hillsboro Police Department.

A YouTube clip posted one month ago shows a different man, who calls himself the “Marked Guardian,” openly carrying his firearm around Hillsboro. Some parents said making a point like this crosses the line — especially in the wake of this week’s Navy Yard shooting and last December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“What’s right is right,” Weiss said, “and what’s wrong is wrong.”

Parent Ben Van Frank told KOIN 6 News he fully supports the U.S. Constitution’s second amendment, but has his reservations about the recent stances in Hillsboro.

“I believe people have the right to protect themselves and their families,” Van Frank said. “However, when you display your firearms in a blatant manner, that tends to raise questions.”

Police said the kids were safe, and that the man was not a threat.

“To carry a gun in front of civilians, whether it be kids or adults,” said parent and cheer-leading coach Jessica Lively, “that’s not a great way to prove a point, especially after what we’ve seen in America.”

District officials said if he’s seen again they will put schools back on lockout. That means doors are locked and nobody is allowed out — or in.

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