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Eye On Olympia

Some Democrats taking aim at Seattle’s ban on guns on city property?

Half a dozen Democratic state lawmakers — all of them from districts with large rural areas — today called on the state’s attorney general to weigh in on whether a city can ban otherwise-legal firearms from city property.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels recently issued such an executive order:

“It is the policy of the City of Seattle, acting in its proprietary capacity, to adopt and enforce policies, rules, and contractual agreements that, consistent with state law, prohibit the possession of dangerous weapons, including firearms, on City property.”

“I’d like to know whether cities like Seattle can set aside the Bill of Rights when you walk onto city property,” Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, said in a press release today. He said he thinks such a ban “infringes on the right of citizens to legally carry a gun.”

“There’s a lot of questions, but I would also like to know if state laws are being pre-empted by Seattle’s mayor,” he said.

The other lawmakers signing the letter include:
-Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond
-Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview
-Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen
-Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam
-and Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw.

Although all are running for re-election this year, three of them — Hatfield, Takko and Blake — are running unopposed.

Washington lawmakers ran into a similar issue firsthand several years ago, when they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars installing and staffing metal detectors and X-ray machines at the entrances to the state capitol.

But because lawmakers have long been reluctant to go the extra step and ban firearms in the building, the screenings led to a bizarre result: security staff were confiscating things like hammers, screwdrivers and pepper spray, but anyone with a concealed weapons permit was free to pass through, pistol, bullets and all.

The leased machines were soon removed.


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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