Portland's ban on loaded guns is constitutional, Supreme Court says

PORTLAND, Ore. - Yes, you have the right to bear arms to defend yourself.

But how about carrying loaded guns?

The Oregon Supreme Court has weighed in that Portland's ban on packing loaded firearms is constitutional.

It's the first time the higher court has considered a city ordinance. The ruling applies to all cities in Oregon.

The panel of justices decided the ordinance was not too far-reaching and broad, according to their written opinion issued Thursday. The justices pointed out that the ordinance doesn't restrict the right of people to have loaded guns at home, just in public places.

The justices also said there have been exceptions nationwide to the right to carry firearms: when there's a concern for public safety.

"In the United States, generally it has been recognized that the right to bear arms is not absolute and that the exercise of legislative authority reasonably restricting the right to bear arms to promote public safety is constitutionally permissible," the Supreme Court opinion said.

The issue came before the Supreme Court relating to a Portland case, where a man was arrested for having loaded guns. While it doesn't affect Portland's ordinance, it could mean more cities could pass similar restrictions.

The case in question resulted when the man arrested did not have any of the more than a dozen exceptions allowed by Portland's ordinance, including having a concealed carry permit or going hunting.

The lawyers argued the case in March and the justices released their unanimous decision this week. The man's attorney argued any restrictions on carry guns are unconstitutional. The city's lawyers argued they're not.

"Article 1, Section 27 guarantees the right of persons to carry weapons that are readily capable of use for immediate self-defense," said lawyer Neil Byl, who wants Portland's ordinance overturned.

However, Portland's attorney, Harry Auerbach, said that right is not an absolute right.

"It's subject to reasonable regulation by the government," Auerbach said. "What we've got here is simply a reasonable regulation in the manner in which people possess firearms in public."

The lawyer who wanted Portland's restrictions overturned said Friday he might appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.