Milton-Freewater allows employees to carry guns on the job

MILTON-FREEWATER, Oreg. - Mass shooting tragedies nationwide have left one small community in Oregon looking for safety. Milton-Freewater City Council gave employees the okay to carry guns on the job. Officials say it is to give employees peace of mind.

Louise Stovall has lived in the area for more than two years. She owns multiple guns, but says allowing more into the public makes her uneasy.

"It scares you, it makes me want to leave the area, because I don't know what that person is going to do," said resident Louise Stovall.

By a 4-1 vote, the council adjusted an amendment that now allows city employees to carry concealed weapons while on the job. Staff called for it not because of poor conditions, but in case of an emergency.

"For the ability in a mass shooting or something like that, that they would be able to react quickly for the possible protection of others in the community. This is not vigilantes, you're not going to see our utility workers out on the streets packing six-shooters on their holsters," said City Manager Linda Hall.

One city employee came forward to Linda about the idea, referring back to recent national events such as Newtown and the Aurora shootings.

"It is a sign of the times that we should be thinking of that possibility and not just discount that it wouldn't happen here," said Hall.

But residents are divided on the issue.

"I feel safe that they know when the appropriate time and when the inappropriate time for them to use them," said resident Jaque Sicocan.

"I think we're going a little overboard, not necessary to do that. People shouldn't have to carry guns to feel safe," said Stovall.

"I like what they have done with the amendment. I think that it gives us a little extra security in places we may need it," said resident Tim Reger.

The city says for any resident who request no weapons on their property, they will be adhered to, and they expect few employees to even participate.

"I wouldn't feel uncomfortable because I know there is no reason for me to feel uncomfortable with them coming onto my property with a gun," said Reger.

"Just because they're city employees doesn't mean they are safe. I don't know if I would feel safe if I saw that," said Stovall.

City staff say employees will not get special treatment. They will have to apply for a concealed weapons license at the Umatilla Sheriff's Office like anyone else. If the city receives too many complaints from residents, they would have no problem reverting back to the old amendment.