July 8, 2013 in City

Spokane city council approves firearms ordinance

By The Spokesman-Review

About 10 men openly carrying their firearms went to Spokane City Council Monday to show their support for gun rights.

The council unanimously supported a firearm ordinance sponsored by Councilman Mike Fagan that he said “synced up” city code with state law. Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin was absent.

The ordinance codifies in city rulebooks the power of public assembly facilities to prohibit any weapon, including licensed firearms. The facilities, specifically the Convention Center, the INB Performing Arts Center, Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and Joe Albi Stadium, have long had these rights due to state Supreme Court decisions.

“This ordinance does not, does not in any way affect current gun rights and restrictions,” Fagan said from the dais. “Again, we are not changing any current practice with this ordinance.”

Most of the people who testified were in support of the ordinance, though at one point City Attorney Mike Piccolo had to clarify that public assembly facilities have the ability to outlaw guns because of the dual role they play: as a government and as a business. When acting as a business, the facilities can restrict weapons, as can any business. Not so when acting in their “governmental capacity.”

Martin Howser, who testified, said he has “no worries” about the new firearm rules, which City Councilman Jon Snyder called “housekeeping changes.”

Instead, Howser said he was worried that the facilities might use this newly codified power to further encroach on people’s rights.

“What follows?” he said.

Fagan said he was glad the ordinance passed if just to inform constituents.

“The next time someone comes up saying the city is being heavy handed (with gun rules), we can say, ‘No. It’s not the city. It’s the PFD. Or the parks. Or Joe Albi Stadium,’” he said.

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