CORRECTION: Some places where Washington state law prohibits guns were misstated in a story on Page B1 of Thursday’s Herald. State law says that people cannot carry firearms into any portion of a drinking establishment the state liquor control board deems off-limits to people under the age of 21, including taverns and restaurant lounges. Under state law, certain portions of commercial airports and jails also are off-limits for members of the public carrying firearms.
EVERETT — Some Snohomish County councilmen aren’t thrilled about letting just anybody carry a gun into county parks, though they realize a current ban conflicts with state law.
Councilmen on Wednesday suggested a compromise of sorts. They might be willing to lift that ban to bring the county into compliance. They also might ask Washington lawmakers to change state law so local governments could prohibit the possession of firearms at all government facilities by anyone who does not have a concealed-weapons permit.
A hearing on both issues is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. April 21.
“For myself, I’m really uncomfortable about giving a blank check to folks to bring whatever firearms they want to county parks,” Council Chairman Dave Gossett said. “Under the state, the way the law is written, you could get a group of gang-bangers with AK-47s and shotguns just intimidate everybody by being there.”
Washington state law currently allows guns in all but a few specific places, such as jails, courtrooms, commercial airports and liquor stores. State law says cities and counties cannot have more restrictive firearms laws than the state does.
In January, Republican Councilman John Koster proposed removing the county’s 1971 ban on firearms in parks to comply with state law. None of the four Democrats on the council supported Koster. One reason given for not acting were pending legal challenges against Seattle for its attempt to keep firearms out of city facilities.
Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels pushed for the restriction after a shooting that wounded three people at the 2008 Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. The gun belonged to a Snohomish man with a valid concealed-weapons permit.
Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled the Seattle ban did not violate the U.S. Constitution. But a King County Superior Court judge said it was “null and void” because it contradicted state law.
The Snohomish County Council amended the proposal Wednesday by a 3-0 vote to include the request to change state law, with Gossett, Brian Sullivan and Dave Somers present. Koster and Mike Cooper had excused absences.
The new motion reads, in part: “While supporting the right of citizens to possess firearms for self protection, sport and other legal purposes, the Snohomish County Council sees serious problems with allowing unrestricted possession of firearms in county parks, a place where children should be able to play and families gather without feeling threatened.”
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, firstname.lastname@example.org.