Umatilla Repeals Gun Restriction Ordinance

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It’s no longer illegal to carry a firearm into a bar in Umatilla – if you have the correct permits, of course.

Until Monday night, the Umatilla city code prohibited anyone from possessing a firearm “while on premises licensed to sell or dispense alcoholic liquor, other than the licensee or his/her employee.” Police and peace officers were excluded from the prohibition.

When the ordinance passed in 1987, the city had the authority to enforce it; however, in 1994, the state of Oregon enacted a law pre-empting all regulation of the possession of firearms, putting the Umatilla ordinance in violation of state law.

“State law precludes us from making this sort of regulation,” City Manager Bob Ward told the Umatilla City Council on Monday. “We can regulate firearms in public places – in (City Hall), in parks – but not in bars. We just don’t have the authority to do that.”

Ward called the ordinance a “common sense” law and said the Umatilla Police Department has not reported any issues with firearms in places where alcohol is sold.

Alan Gottlieb, the executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, brought the ordinance to the attention of city leaders in July.

“The city of Umatilla has no legal authority to adopt or enforce this section of the Umatilla Municipal Code and should, out of respect for the supremacy of the Oregon Legislature, and out of respect for the rule of law, repeal it,” Gottlieb said in a letter to the city.

The council unanimously passed Ordinance No. 783, to repeal the portion of the city code, 5.1.3A, prohibiting firearm possession where alcohol is sold. The remaining portion of the code, regarding lawful and unlawful possession and use of firearms, remains intact.

This isn’t the first time the Umatilla City Council has found an unusual restriction in its codes. Last summer, the council re-worked an ordinance that prohibited “raising livestock, poultry or wildlife/exotic animals” within city limits. In its description of prohibited pets, the original ordinance included horses, rabbits, fish, amphibians, reptiles, parrots, ducks and chickens.