Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Speakers at a rally in front of City Hall in Medford on Saturday argued for their rights to own and carry guns, with some saying they will support a local initiative to protect gun rights.

Medford gun supporters prepare for ballot showdown

Speakers at a pro-gun rally Saturday outside Medford City Hall urged “respectful” opposition to a pair of statewide firearms initiatives and touted a possible Jackson County ballot measure to protect gun rights locally.

Speaking to a crowd reported at 60 to 100 gun-rights supporters who attended the “Rally Against the Oregon Gun Confiscation,” Jesse Holcomb of Medford advocated they take a respectful tone in their opposition of the proposed statewide initiatives. Oregon Initiative 43 would make ownership of certain high-capacity semiautomatic firearms a felony and Initiative 44 would require trigger locks and make gun owners liable for injuries caused by a weapon not used in self-defense or defense of another person. Neither has yet qualified for the November ballot.

“It’s really easy to blow up against someone who opposes your view,” Holcomb said. “What we need to do is be respectful of their opinion, engage in more of a dialogue and not a shouting match, because that’s not going to convince anybody.”

Ryan Mallory, moderator and co-owner of the popular crimewatching Jackson County Scanner Facebook group, told the crowd of plans to gather signatures for a Jackson County ballot measure that would make protections of gun rights part of the county charter, which he said is modeled after a similar Josephine County initiative that passed in 1994. He plans to issue details through a website he’d obtained,, which he said would go live Sunday, and a Patriotic Revolution Facebook page he’s organized.

“Three of my friends are going to file this ballot measure so it’s independent of anything I do because that might bring noise with the Scanner Group stuff,” Mallory said.

Mallory, who is working as a campaign manager for sheriff candidate William Froehlich, also encouraged the crowd to choose a “constitutional sheriff” on November’s ballot.

Crowd estimates varied, with Holcomb estimating close to 75, while Mallory said he counted 103 attendees. Another estimate put the number at closer to 60.

Saying the NRA has been “dropping the ball a whole lot,” Holcomb advocated that gun rights supporters get involved with nonprofits more focused on “local action,” such as the Oregon Firearms Federation, in protection of Second Amendment rights.

“We’re in a unique country in the world where we have these rights,” Holcomb said. “I don’t want to be like the rest of the world.”

Touching on the groundswell of youth-based anti-gun sentiment that’s prompted walkouts in March and April, and drew a crowd of 1,500 to 2,000 to Medford’s Spiegelberg Stadium last month for the “March for Our Lives” demonstration, an audience member who said she “works with kids” said she understands that youth are scared and believe assault rifles are threatening their safety. She said there’s “two points of view.”

“You need to not, in my opinion, put them down to their faces for that,” the woman said, before shifting to the argument that gun laws already on the books go unenforced.

Attendee Eric Henderson of Grants Pass said he believes the way to keep students safe is through armed guards and armed teachers in a system modeled on Israel’s, arguing that by making schools gun-free zones they’ve become “the easiest target.”

Israeli law requires one private police-sanctioned guard for every 100 students., however, says armed Israeli teachers are not typical outside of extremely dangerous areas such as the West Bank.

Jerry Morgan and her husband Henry Morgan of Rogue River said they’ve grown up with guns, as have their children and grandchildren, and “nobody got shot.” They said that by teaching their children that guns are not toys, they learned to respect them.

“Anymore they don’t do that,” Henry Morgan said. “They want to lock ‘em away.”

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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