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Thread: Addressing "no firearms" rule from the HOA.

  1. #1
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    I live in the Kingsgate neighborhood in Kirkland (Kingsgate 3 & 4, specifically). Our HOA recently sent out a newsletter detailing rules for our neighborhood park. One of the rules disallows "firearms or other dangerous weapons". Upon reading this I immediately emailed the board and received a response from the board president. He stated that the rules have been that way ever since he can remember, but that they are not posted. I can't confirm that yet, and will try to find my HOA handbook to verify, but he's trustworthy and I believe him. In any case, the board is planning to get signs made up with these rules, and post them at each entrance to the park. Obviously, I'm not happy about this rule. I'm even less happy that I'm paying money every year for the privilege of having my rights stripped.

    Long story short, I've been asked to attend the next board meeting and present my case to get the rule changed. We all know the basic reason that these rules don't work: Criminals don't follow the rules! I've made a mental outline of the arguments against this type of thing, but I'm wondering if anyone has done something similar with their HOA or place of business (or other, similar area).

    So, has anyone here ever done something like this? Any advise you can share?

    Anyone here live in my neighborhood? If so, would you also like to attend the meeting as a show of solidarity?

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    Regular Member Mainsail's Avatar
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    That’s a curveball. It’s private property but it’s (in a way) your private property. Some questions:

    1. By what authority can they ban lawfully carried firearms?
    2. What is the penalty for blowing off that rule?

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    I'm trying to figure out those things right now, without having to resort to consulting a lawyer. I've looked through the convenants and seen nothing with regards to the park rules or their enforcement.

    Regardless of whether they have the authority, I'm hoping to appeal to their common sense (something that, unfortunately, the anti's seem to have very little of). There have been some problems in the park, and I seriously doubt that many of the women in this neighborhood would be thrilled with the thought of walking through the park alone at night. Which, in my opinion, is all the more reason they should be willing to defend themselves and allow their neighbors to do the same. Also, the wording of the restriction on "dangerous weapons" is pretty vague, since they are not defined. Does this mean that kids can't play baseball anymore, since baseball bats can be used as weapons? Does this mean that we'll be eating with our fingers at the next steak fry, since steak knives can be used to stab and cut? Will we have to remove all the rocks from the play area...after all, a rock supposedly brought down Goliath.

    Hopefully this appeal will work, but I'm hoping to have legal recourse as well.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator Gray Peterson's Avatar
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    Yet another reason why I will never buy an HOA property.

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    Cue-Ball wrote:
    So, has anyone here ever done something like this? Any advise you can share?
    A great resource for facts about guns can be found at:

    http://www.gunfacts.info/

    Lots of research and it's organized into debunking most of the myths surrounding gun ownership. They have a pdf you can print out and give to the board members previous to the meeting.

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    Well, I fired the first salvo last night, in what will likely turn out to be a long and drawn out battle.

    The HOA board had a meeting last night, which I attended. I was the sole supporter of removing the "no firearms" rule from the park. I approached the subject from a few different angles:

    1) The rule was too vague. It reads "No firearms or dangerous weapons are allowed". While "firearm" is quite clear, dangerous weapon is not defined. Even the term "deadly weapon", defined in Washington State law, covers just about any object you can think of. The difference is that there's no law prohibiting carrying these items, so long as they are not used in an assault (nunchucks, throwing stars, etc. are prohibited, but aerosol cans, knives, pipes, and other everyday household objects are not). To enforce this park rule, the board would have to prevent people from bringing pretty much anything on to park property, including gas grilles, shovels and rakes, steak knives, etc.

    2) The rule is unenforceable. If someone is carrying a concealed weapon - gun or otherwise - there's no way for anyone to know. The homeowners have no means to perform a stop or search of a person on the property, and the police have no jurisdiction to perform a search either, since it's (shared) private property. If, by some miracle, someone was actually caught breaking the rule, nobody has any way to detain them so that they can be fined, and if they are not homeowners, they can't be fined at all.

    3) The penalty for breaking the rule is not enforced, generally can't be enforced, and isn't a deterrent anyway. Assault with a deadly weapon is already covered by Washington State law and is a Class A, B, or C felony, depending on circumstances. Committing assault with a deadly weapon can result in a $50,000 fine and life in prison. Violating the park's no weapons rule is a $50 fine. Anyone who's willing to risk life in prison is not going to be deterred by a small fine. And, as said above, people who are not members of the HOA can't be fined anyway (homeowners can have a levy put against their house, but it's almost never done because it costs more in paperwork and lawyer fees than it brings in via the fine).

    4) Anyone who is legally and lawfully armed should not be denied access to the park, and anyone who wants to come to the park should not be disarmed. For the past three years I've heard nothing but complaints from board members and home owners that "undesireables" hang out in the park at all hours, drinking and doing drugs. One of these people (they're mostly teenagers) was recently caught carrying a pistol while underage. Now, they want to make sure that anyone who goes to the park is not only outnumbered, but is underarmed as well.

    5) It may very well be illegal for the board/HOA to prevent me from legally arming myself on property that I jointly own. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to back this up with law or precedent yet, but I may consult a lawyer to see exactly what my rights are in this regard. At the very least, this rule violates the state constitution and my personal civil liberties. That alone should give me some legal ground to stand on.

    Even with all of these arguments, very few people were willing to back up my position. Two women, in particular, "gave me the hand" and were basically unwilling to listen to reason and logic. Apparently, all they know is emotion; fear of guns. One woman said that she works in HR and that removing the no firearms rule would open up the HOA to liability. I responded that disarming a legally armed citizen would be just as bad. Another woman asked the classic "why do you need a gun"? I gave her the classic "why do you need seatbelts or smoke detectors" response.

    It wasn't ALL bad though. The board president attempted to get a compromise, saying that people with permits should be allowed, and that there may be legal implications involved in barring the use of arms to citizens. I agreed with the latter, but insisted that people don't need a permit to arm themselves, and that no citizen should be denied the right to defend theirself, regardless of whether or not they have a CPL. My neighbor also came through with some support. She knows that I carry a gun and said that while she doesn't own one, she's glad I do, since the Sheriff takes forever to respond, if they do at all. This woman also made the best suggestion of the night: changing the wording of the rule to only prohibit "unlawful weapons". This compromise seems to be the almost perfect solution. It allows the board to maintain their rule, while not preventing me from carrying.

    One other thing during the meeting really struck me. The woman I just mentioned was the ONLY person there who knew that I carried a gun. This, despite the fact that I openly carry all around the neighborhood on an almost daily basis. Just a few weeks ago I had a long conversation with the board treasurer, outside her home, while she was having a garage sale. I was there for at least ten minutes, carrying openly on her own property. I talked to her, her husband, and several people who stopped for the garage sale. At last nights meeting she told me she had no idea that I carried. I knew that people were unobservant, but I didn't think they were blind!


    Long story short, almost nobody was willing to back me up (certainly not the people that matter - the board members), but I made my case and a potential compromise was reached. I'll continue to research this further and will be speaking to a lawyer (any recommendations for one?), but for now I'll just continue to carry and will stay away from the park as much as possible. During those times that I do need to enter the park, I will remain armed. My life is worth more to me than $50.

  7. #7
    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Cue-Ball wrote:
    Well, I fired the first salvo last night, in what will likely turn out to be a long and drawn out battle.

    The HOA board had a meeting last night, which I attended. I was the sole supporter of removing the "no firearms" rule from the park. I approached the subject from a few different angles:

    1) The rule was too vague. It reads "No firearms or dangerous weapons are allowed". While "firearm" is quite clear, dangerous weapon is not defined. Even the term "deadly weapon", defined in Washington State law, covers just about any object you can think of. The difference is that there's no law prohibiting carrying these items, so long as they are not used in an assault (nunchucks, throwing stars, etc. are prohibited, but aerosol cans, knives, pipes, and other everyday household objects are not). To enforce this park rule, the board would have to prevent people from bringing pretty much anything on to park property, including gas grilles, shovels and rakes, steak knives, etc.

    2) The rule is unenforceable. If someone is carrying a concealed weapon - gun or otherwise - there's no way for anyone to know. The homeowners have no means to perform a stop or search of a person on the property, and the police have no jurisdiction to perform a search either, since it's (shared) private property. If, by some miracle, someone was actually caught breaking the rule, nobody has any way to detain them so that they can be fined, and if they are not homeowners, they can't be fined at all.

    3) The penalty for breaking the rule is not enforced, generally can't be enforced, and isn't a deterrent anyway. Assault with a deadly weapon is already covered by Washington State law and is a Class A, B, or C felony, depending on circumstances. Committing assault with a deadly weapon can result in a $50,000 fine and life in prison. Violating the park's no weapons rule is a $50 fine. Anyone who's willing to risk life in prison is not going to be deterred by a small fine. And, as said above, people who are not members of the HOA can't be fined anyway (homeowners can have a levy put against their house, but it's almost never done because it costs more in paperwork and lawyer fees than it brings in via the fine).

    4) Anyone who is legally and lawfully armed should not be denied access to the park, and anyone who wants to come to the park should not be disarmed. For the past three years I've heard nothing but complaints from board members and home owners that "undesireables" hang out in the park at all hours, drinking and doing drugs. One of these people (they're mostly teenagers) was recently caught carrying a pistol while underage. Now, they want to make sure that anyone who goes to the park is not only outnumbered, but is underarmed as well.

    5) It may very well be illegal for the board/HOA to prevent me from legally arming myself on property that I jointly own. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to back this up with law or precedent yet, but I may consult a lawyer to see exactly what my rights are in this regard. At the very least, this rule violates the state constitution and my personal civil liberties. That alone should give me some legal ground to stand on.

    Even with all of these arguments, very few people were willing to back up my position. Two women, in particular, "gave me the hand" and were basically unwilling to listen to reason and logic. Apparently, all they know is emotion; fear of guns. One woman said that she works in HR and that removing the no firearms rule would open up the HOA to liability. I responded that disarming a legally armed citizen would be just as bad. Another woman asked the classic "why do you need a gun"? I gave her the classic "why do you need seatbelts or smoke detectors" response.

    It wasn't ALL bad though. The board president attempted to get a compromise, saying that people with permits should be allowed, and that there may be legal implications involved in barring the use of arms to citizens. I agreed with the latter, but insisted that people don't need a permit to arm themselves, and that no citizen should be denied the right to defend theirself, regardless of whether or not they have a CPL. My neighbor also came through with some support. She knows that I carry a gun and said that while she doesn't own one, she's glad I do, since the Sheriff takes forever to respond, if they do at all. This woman also made the best suggestion of the night: changing the wording of the rule to only prohibit "unlawful weapons". This compromise seems to be the almost perfect solution. It allows the board to maintain their rule, while not preventing me from carrying.

    One other thing during the meeting really struck me. The woman I just mentioned was the ONLY person there who knew that I carried a gun. This, despite the fact that I openly carry all around the neighborhood on an almost daily basis. Just a few weeks ago I had a long conversation with the board treasurer, outside her home, while she was having a garage sale. I was there for at least ten minutes, carrying openly on her own property. I talked to her, her husband, and several people who stopped for the garage sale. At last nights meeting she told me she had no idea that I carried. I knew that people were unobservant, but I didn't think they were blind!


    Long story short, almost nobody was willing to back me up (certainly not the people that matter - the board members), but I made my case and a potential compromise was reached. I'll continue to research this further and will be speaking to a lawyer (any recommendations for one?), but for now I'll just continue to carry and will stay away from the park as much as possible. During those times that I do need to enter the park, I will remain armed. My life is worth more to me than $50.
    Rather than trying to eliminate the "rule" why not just try and get the following added:



    Exception- Any person who is legally carrying a firearm in accordance with State Laws.



    This would cover all legal methods of carry while still giving the "blissninny's" their measure of comfort in the "No Firearms" sign.
    "If I shoot all the ammo I am carrying I either won't need anymore or more won't help"

    "If you refuse to stand up for others now, who will stand up for you when your time comes?"

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    As I said, I'm trying to get the rule changed to "unlawful weapons". This change not only makes OC and CC permissible (assuming you have a CC permit to CC), but it also removes the vauge wording of "dangerous weapon" in the current rule.

    I would much prefer to just do away with the rule altogether, but the MMMers on the board will never let that happen, regardless of how futile their rule is.

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    amlevin wrote:
    Cue-Ball wrote:
    This woman also made the best suggestion of the night: changing the wording of the rule to only prohibit "unlawful weapons". This compromise seems to be the almost perfect solution. It allows the board to maintain their rule, while not preventing me from carrying.
    Rather than trying to eliminate the "rule" why not just try and get the following added:



    Exception- Any person who is legally carrying a firearm in accordance with State Laws.



    This would cover all legal methods of carry while still giving the "blissninny's" their measure of comfort in the "No Firearms" sign.
    My personal opinion is that changing the rule to make "unlawful weapons" prohibited is a much better thing than making *all* weapons prohibited, then granting special privilege to those who are carrying them legally.

    One maintains a right, the other grants a privilege.

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    Amlevin wrote:
    "My personal opinion is that changing the rule to make "unlawful weapons" prohibited is a much better thing than making *all* weapons prohibited, then granting special privilege to those who are carrying them legally.

    One maintains a right, the other grants a privilege."

    My sentiments exactly. The board president tried to get me to acquiesce, requesting only that CPL permit holders be allowed to carry in the park. I told him that was unacceptable, and that ALL citizens have the right to self defense, not just those who are willing to undergo the permit process.

  11. #11
    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Cue-Ball wrote:
    Amlevin wrote:
    "My personal opinion is that changing the rule to make "unlawful weapons" prohibited is a much better thing than making *all* weapons prohibited, then granting special privilege to those who are carrying them legally.

    One maintains a right, the other grants a privilege."

    My sentiments exactly. The board president tried to get me to acquiesce, requesting only that CPL permit holders be allowed to carry in the park. I told him that was unacceptable, and that ALL citizens have the right to self defense, not just those who are willing to undergo the permit process.
    I don't disagree. The difference though is in what you might want and what you might get. HOA's are led by ignorant people that let their emotions govern their actions. Hold your ground on the "rights" issue and they will dig in. End result is nothing will change. Is it right--No. But that's the way it is unless you have unlimited funds and a Law Firm on retainer.
    "If I shoot all the ammo I am carrying I either won't need anymore or more won't help"

    "If you refuse to stand up for others now, who will stand up for you when your time comes?"

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    amlevin wrote:
    HOA's are led by ignorant people that let their emotions govern their actions.
    If only HOAs were the only ones... :X

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    My personal view on this topic, is HOW SAFE DO YOU feel in your neighborhood park? With that being said, do your kids play at the park? I know they arn't packing, so why should you? They play outside in the neighborhood all the time with at most a water gun. I can understand if you feel the area you live at isn't that safe, you would carry. I just know that if I'm in a place of comfort, theres no need to carry. I only carry in my house due to having the lil one running around. I personaly don't think it'd be that hard to just leave the gun at home or in the car while in the park, but like I said, it depends on the area you're in.



    Not trying to pop ya chops, or anyones. just my two cents. main point of this reply is:I just dont think I'd waste the time to get a lawyer, or spend that much time to fight it.

    and for the record, I open carry anywhere and everywhere, unless they have a metal detector, I dont care.

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    I feel totally and completely safe at the park. I'm sure that the people at the Tacoma Mall felt safe too, right up until they were gunned down.

    I don't have any kids, so I can't really comment on that aspect.

    While you're probably right that I don't NEED a gun in the park, that's not the point. If I sit back and let the HOA strip my rights on this not only will they think it's okay to do so, but then what's next? I would rather stand up now and make my voice heard than wait until it's too late. I don't want to let them take an inch, because the next thing you know they've taken a mile.

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