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Thread: And it begins - Bellingham City Council Park Gun Ban; but wants ban power

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    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/255/story/719116.html




    BELLINGHAM - City Council members and Mayor Dan Pike are asking the state Legislature to prohibit people from carrying firearms in the city's parks.

    Council members on Monday, Dec. 15, repealed a city law - common in many cities around the state - that prohibited firearms in parks after they were told by city attorneys that the law was not enforceable. State law supersedes the city's, and council members can't make stricter rules about public property, according to Evan Jones, an assistant city attorney who works in the criminal division.

    In a 5-2 vote, with council members Barry Buchanan and Louise Bjornson opposed, the council repealed the law from the municipal code. Councilman Jack Weiss was absent. The council then unanimously asked the city's lobbyist, Dick Little, to see if state legislators would allow cities via state law to ban guns from parks.

    For Buchanan, the issue comes down to the safety of kids, pointing out that it "doesn't make sense" to have guns in parks where children are playing. Bjornson couldn't be reached for comment.

    Jones told the council that the issue is one of liability, and that because the law is unenforceable, someone could sue the city for false arrest.

    The Bellingham Police Department had been told prior to the repeal of the law not to enforce it - but not before a man in 2007 was arrested in Bellingham while watching his son play in the park. A passerby reportedly saw a gun in the man's back "pants pocket," Jones said.

    The city prosecutor, after reviewing the case and deciding state law didn't allow for prosecution, dropped the charges, Jones said.

    "(Liability) does concern me, yes," Buchanan said. "But it's kind of a no-win situation. I'd definitely rather err on the side of public safety."

    Attorney General Rob McKenna's office, in a non-binding opinion in October, said that such bans in parks and other city-owned property are not allowed by state law.

    It turns out that Bellingham isn't the only municipality that has this law on the books.

    Some 42 cities and seven counties have some type of ban on firearms in parks and other city-owned public places, said Alex Fryer, a City of Seattle spokesman.

    In Whatcom County, Lynden, Ferndale and Blaine all have a gun ban in parks like the one repealed by Bellingham City Council members. Around the state, other cities like Buckley, Centralia and Spokane also have a gun ban in parks, Fryer said.

    Seattle has been embroiled in a guns debate following a shooting that injured three people at the Folklife Festival in late May. Mayor Greg Nickels is trying to further restrict guns from city-owned property.

    Meanwhile in Bellingham, Mayor Pike said he hopes the Legislature will listen to the city's concerns.

    "Personally, I think that it's reasonable to have some places where guns aren't allowed and I think parks are a good example," Pike said. Pike said he doesn't believe guns should be at City Hall, either.



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    Jeez, so if there are children around the gun is magically gonna jump out and start causing problems? What a lame excuse. I heard that one when I was first detained by OPD too over a year ago in a park "There are children here..." So?

    Time to start pressuring our elected officials that the preemption law should stay put!

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    uncoolperson wrote:
    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/255/story/719116.html

    For Buchanan, the issue comes down to the safety of kids, pointing out that it "doesn't make sense" to have guns in parks where children are playing. Bjornson couldn't be reached for comment.
    ...
    "(Liability) does concern me, yes," Buchanan said. "But it's kind of a no-win situation. I'd definitely rather err on the side of public safety."
    WHEN will these people learn that a law does not:

    a) keep guns out as criminals don't follow the law, it only keeps them out of the hands of law abiding citizens, and

    b) make things safer - see a) above ???

    And WHEN will these reporters start calling them on it when stupid stuff like the above is said???

    UGH

    -adamsesq

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    I have a question, because on some legal issues I'm alittle slow. But what is the purpose of a "non-binding" opinion. Wouldn't it hold more weight being "binding"? I would think if you're going to stand up for our laws and its your job to make cities/mayors/council-people see the light isn't a "NO" statement better than "it probably wouldn't be a good idea"? Really, is there that much grey area in the law?

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    It's a non-binding opinion because Mayors and City Councils don't work for the Attorney General; he has no authority over them. Thus, such an opinion is (in one sense) merely useful information--an indication of what kind of brief the AG might file, as the official representative of the state, in the event of a lawsuit or other court case.



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    kparker wrote:
    It's a non-binding opinion because Mayors and City Councils don't work for the Attorney General; he has no authority over them. Thus, such an opinion is (in one sense) merely useful information--an indication of what kind of brief the AG might file, as the official representative of the state, in the event of a lawsuit or other court case.

    So it's a preemp opinion of what to expect if the case moves to the legislature? Just making sure I'm clear.

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    Actually, it's a preview of what to expect from the state if the case goes to court.

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    Do you think it's okay to refer to the lobyist as Chicken Little?

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    uncoolperson wrote:
    Do you think it's okay to refer to the lobyist as Chicken Little?
    Chicken littles form the bulk of these anti-gun people...

    "what about the children"--AS IF criminals are going to care about that...Where do these people get their education?

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    MY question is this, how many kids are in parks any more? I rarely see any in my travels around town.

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    Vandal wrote:
    MY question is this, how many kids are in parks any more? I rarely see any in my travels around town.
    Very few. Although the child abduction by strangers rate has been static for decades, the media's attention on the subject and scare mongering make it seem like it continues to rise annually scaring the hell out of parents and leading to couch potato syndrome for children.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    deepdiver wrote:
    Vandal wrote:
    MY question is this, how many kids are in parks any more? I rarely see any in my travels around town.
    Very few. Although the child abduction by strangers rate has been static for decades, the media's attention on the subject and scare mongering make it seem like it continues to rise annually scaring the hell out of parents and leading to couch potato syndrome for children.
    If I were a criminal "scoping out" possible targets for abduction, I wouldn't look twice at a kid if their parent(s) were open carrying (I'm assuming none of us are billionaires, and worth the risk of getting shot).

    This makes me wish that people carried openly in the cities of Mexico, where abductions are a serious issue. If parents and schoolteachers had guns, the scum who commit these crimes might think twice.

    Maybe the quote from Raging Against Self Defense can be applied here?

    I'd rather my child be abducted, ".. than have some redneck militia type try to rescue him." - http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum6/19535-1.html

    I still think that if the government, through abrogation of your rights causes you harm or distress (i.e. you are mugged in a park where guns are illegal) they should be liable for damages.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...pagewanted=all

    http://www.dailyadvance.com/news/wor...co-297280.html

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    deepdiver wrote:
    Vandal wrote:
    MY question is this, how many kids are in parks any more? I rarely see any in my travels around town.
    Very few. Although the child abduction by strangers rate has been static for decades, the media's attention on the subject and scare mongering make it seem like it continues to rise annually scaring the hell out of parents and leading to couch potato syndrome for children.
    All part of the "Deliberate Dumbing Down of America", I'm sure.

    Sit. Watch TV. OBEY. Good sheep. Baaaaaaaa.

    I refuse to turn on the TV any longer because of the blatant indoctrination and lies that come on as soon as I hit the power button.

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    letter to the city council and the editor of the newspaper

    what do you think (go ahead and be harsh with criticism, I can take it)



    Council Members and residents of Bellingham,

    I was quite excited to read in the Bellingham Herald that BMC 8.04.170 (The city law banning firearms in city parks) was finally repealed. Being someone that first saw the police report in the newspaper and notified people more adept at handling firearm laws (I'm sure there were more than just me that saw this). However I am dumbfounded that Barry Buchanan and Louise Bjornson opposed the removal of a clearly illegal municipal code that was in clear violation of state law. Do you really want to be known as the council members that tried to break the law? (and commit the crimes set forth in 42 USC 1983)

    The state laws on preemption were created so I could travel from Blaine to Walla Walla without fear of needing to know a few hundred different laws. With one set of state laws and rules concerning local laws I am provided the ability to safely grasp state firearm laws without being suprised if I stop at a local park to check out some local history or scenery.

    The few localities that continue to keep illegal firearm laws on the books are generally well known as places to avoid. And are actively pressured to get their laws in line with state law. Would you really like to shun away a number of well intentioned law abiding citizens visitors because you fear the improbable criminal (which by definition has little concern for minor laws) in a city park? Or rather make criminals out of a number of well intentioned normally law abiding citizens that just happened to believe common sense measures and laws meant common rather than a patchwork of varying laws.

    Furthermore I'd like to ask what city parks you wish to ban firearms from, is it the one where a close female friend of mine was held up at knife point, the one where a friend of mine was confronted by a cougar, or the one where I was verbally threatened?

    Making something a crime does not reduce the number of criminals, instead it increases that number. Rather than join Seattle in their quest add to the criminals in our parks and cities, I ask you to please do something to reduce the criminals and crime that reside in our parks and our city.

    At a time when we are constantly hearing of how every level of government is operating with a negative budget, I suggest that instead of sending Dick Little to lobby Olympia we should be saving what little money the city still has or find more constructive ways to invest it.


    Edit: additions in red, removals underlined


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    uncoolperson wrote:
    In Whatcom County, Lynden, Ferndale and Blaine all have a gun ban in parks like the one repealed by Bellingham City Council members.
    Letter written and emailed today to the Blaine City Manager.

    Hi Gary,

    Calvin Armerding here. I live in Blaine, over on G Street. I have spoken with you before on various issues and wanted to bring another to your attention. I recently discovered that you have the following provision in the code that relates to city parks.

    "12.32.060 Firearms and explosives. A. It is unlawful to shoot, fire or explode any firearm, torpedo or explosive of any kind or to carry any firearm or to shoot or fire any air gun, bows and arrows, BB gun or use any slingshot in any park."

    You may or may not be aware that the provision relating to carrying firearms is preempted and repealed by the State of Washington in RCW 9.41.290 State preemption, which I have reproduced below.

    "The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter."

    Nowhere in the RCW does the state give cities the authority to ban the possession of firearms in city parks. I would ask that you refer this to the city attorney for his review and that you subsequently, when he confirms my claim as to the facts of the law, ask the City Council to repeal this section of the Muncipal Code. You should be aware that the city, the council, and the manager could be liable for damages resulting in false arrest and/or imprisonment should a member of the Blaine Police Department ever attempt to enforce this provision. I would appreciate a return email or phone call to let me know what is being done to take care of this matter.

    Thanks.

    Calvin personal info deleted
    I'd also like to thank the Bellingham Herald for pointing out to me that Blaine is violating state law. Do you think they'd print the thank you letter if I sent it to the editor?

    Edit: Cr&p, should have been "damages resulting from false arrest. Oh well, bad copyreading.

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    heresolong wrote:
    I'd also like to thank the Bellingham Herald for pointing out to me that Blaine is violating state law. Do you think they'd print the thank you letter if I sent it to the editor?
    Worth a shot... so to prod some, is mine half decent enough not to embarrass everyone?

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    uncoolperson wrote:
    heresolong wrote:
    I'd also like to thank the Bellingham Herald for pointing out to me that Blaine is violating state law. Do you think they'd print the thank you letter if I sent it to the editor?
    Worth a shot... so to prod some, is mine half decent enough not to embarrass everyone?
    I wouldn't cite a municipal code number. Instead I would say something about the city repealing the code regarding the carrying of firearms in city parks that was in clear violation of state law. You will lose people with the BMC stuff cause they won't know what the letter is about.

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    Betterish?

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator Gray Peterson's Avatar
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    Wow, it took these guys THIS LONG to repeal this ban?

    Considering myself and justacar hammered them mercilessly for over a day, and I had a "Come to Jesus" moment with the City Attorney's office, advising them that they just committed an action that could subject them to 42USC1983 (the long silence after that statement was palpable from the ADA), they cut the guy lose and ripped up his ticket.

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    Lonnie Wilson wrote:
    Wow, it took these guys THIS LONG to repeal this ban?

    Considering myself and justacar hammered them mercilessly for over a day, and I had a "Come to Jesus" moment with the City Attorney's office, advising them that they just committed an action that could subject them to 42USC1983 (the long silence after that statement was palpable from the ADA), they cut the guy lose and ripped up his ticket.
    we're bellingham

    we're slow

    if you want to be really disgusted watch the council videos
    city council meeting video
    committee meeting video

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    Regular Member Gene Beasley's Avatar
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    uncoolperson wrote:
    if you want to be really disgusted watch the council videos
    city council meeting video (begins at 12:00)
    committee meeting video (also begins at 12:00)
    I guess I have to cut a little slack. We, as a group, have a higher focused level of knowledge. I don't understand plat reviews (I've bored myself to death watching various city council meetings). The council members are uniformly clueless on this issue and the city attorney should have educated them. Although off camera during the committee meeting, there seemed to be a lady with a bit of a clue; probably Ryan.

    What surprised me was the city attorney. He did little to inform the council of certain facts.
    • Washington has no RCW with the term 'brandishing.'
    • He consistently used the term 'causes' alarm, instead of what .270 states; specifically the term 'warrants alarm.' They would have really benefited from a brief lesson on what .270 means. Good God, squirrel hunting in a city park with a shotgun....
    • At no point did he inform them that OC is legal in Washington. They all seemed to focus on the 'as long as they have it concealed' or 'as long as they have a CPL.'
    • Not knowing that they could not prohibit carry in the council chambers (assuming they don't meet in the municipal court -or- the court is in the same building and the entire building is sterile).
    Anyone living in Bellingham proper should be all over this legislative action item. They represent you. Uncoolperson, are you the lone wolf in the city? Anyone else you get elicit to get some lobbying to get them to drop their ambiguous action item (hell, they don't even know what they agreed to lobby :X. My daughter is still going to WWU, so I can take the angle of thanking them for bringing their code into line. I don't pay taxes or vote for them. Everyone I know that works in B'ham lives outside the city.

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    Among other ridiculous statements is Louis Bjornson's argument that she was not comfortable repealing the prohibition because there were two shootings in a park near her house. What the ^&* does that have to do with anything? The shootings were illegal. They had nothing to do with possession.

    They have also motioned to work with the state legislature to get rid of preemption as it relates to parks, the motion carried unanimously.

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    heresolong wrote:
    They have also motioned to work with the state legislature to get rid of preemption as it relates to parks, the motion carried unanimously.
    yeah, it'd be a good idea to let your reps (even if you are blessed enough to not be a resident of bellingham) know that the crazies in bellingham are infact that and thier ideas are crazy as well.

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    Gene Beasley wrote:
    Uncoolperson, are you the lone wolf in the city?
    If that's the case we're screwed.


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    uncoolperson wrote:
    Gene Beasley wrote:
    Uncoolperson, are you the lone wolf in the city?
    If that's the case we're screwed.
    Not the only one in Whatcom County though.

    Here is the letter I just shot off to Doug Ericksen and Kelli Linville. Both good people.

    Hi Doug,

    You may remember me as having worked with you issues relating to motorcycles and on the bill that I asked you to introduce regarding sending out license renewal notices to Concealed Pistol Permit Holders. I now have another issue that I wish to bring to your attention.

    Recently the Bellingham City Council voted unanimously to approach the legislature about repealing state preemption of certain firearms laws, specifically focusing on the carry of firearms in parks. They seem to think that prohibiting law abiding persons from legally carrying firearms in parks will somehow improve public safety. As you may know, states with weak or non-existent preemption laws are nightmarish for law abiding gun owners. Each time you travel, even within the county in which you live, you have to worry about a patchwork of firearms laws, making it almost impossible not to inadvertently violate some of those laws. State preemption also helps to guarantee the rights guaranteed in the State Constitution, section 24 of which states "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired. " This is a stronger guarantee than that found in the federal Constitution.

    I wanted to give you a heads up on this issue and know that you will stand with us against this infringement of the Constitutional rights guaranteed by the State of Washington.

    Thanks. Calvin

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