Seattle Mayor moves forward on gun ban plan

Joe Link

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Original story here -> http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/386966_guns08.html

Mayor moves forward on gun ban plan

McKenna says state law applies

By LEVI PULKKINEN
P-I REPORTER

An unequivocal "no" from the state Attorney General's Office is often enough to shoot down a city proposal.

Not so with a move by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels to ban legally permitted handguns from city-owned parks and buildings, an effort that, if successful, could shatter a 47-year-old state prohibition against cities' regulation of firearms.

The Mayor's Office continues to build a case for the ban despite an Oct. 14 opinion issued by Attorney General Rob McKenna's office arguing that the city cannot pre-empt state gun law. The mayor hopes to introduce an administrative order next month.

"The cities are the ones on the front lines of this issue," said Regina LaBelle, legal counsel to the mayor. "We always have to keep in mind not just state law but also federal laws. But our bottom line is that we want to have common-sense gun laws."

Gun-control supporters have long targeted so-called "pre-emption" laws that keep gun regulation out of the hands of city lawmakers, who often are more inclined to create restrictions than their state and federal counterparts. Nickels' push represents a bright spot for gun-control advocates who've largely been stymied for more than a decade and watched this year as a string of high-profile shootings failed to elevate the issue in the national political campaigns or state races.

Nickels' move was widely criticized by supporters of gun rights, who saw it as both wrongheaded and outside the mayor's mandate. That view is shared by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, a Sequim Democrat who asked the attorney general to review Nickels' proposed ban.

"We quickly realized that he can't do that, that it would be illegal," Van De Wege said. "Even people who don't like guns can see the point here that we can't have every municipality having different gun regulations."
The past eight years have been marked by stagnation or backward movement for gun-control advocates, said Ladd Everitt, communications director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

President Bush allowed limits on assault weapons and other firearms to expire. In response to a scathing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report, Congress severely curtailed the agency's ability to share information on guns used in crime. And, though it received mixed reviews on both sides of the gun question, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a constitutional right to individual gun ownership.

A Democratic majority in the House of Representatives offered no relief for gun-control proponents.

"Anyone who thought this Democratic Congress was going to be strong on gun issues was sadly mistaken," Everitt said. "That said, I think that Barack Obama gets this, understands the balancing act" between the views of rural and urban Americans on the issue.

Some gun owners fear what Obama and a stronger Democratic Congress might do. Gun stores across the nation report a surge in business since Tuesday's election, attributing it to buyers worried that their ability to obtain firearms might be curtailed.

The Virginia Tech massacre did prompt Congress to improve the flawed national database used to perform background checks on gun buyers. If funded, the improvement package should ensure that more states submit mental health information to the system, said Eric Nelson, an assistant attorney general representing the Department of Social and Health Services.

As the system currently stands, most states fail to identify mentally ill individuals who've been confined against their will in the federal system. As a practical matter, Nelson said, that means someone institutionalized in Oregon or another state would pass a background check in Washington.

"It certainly is the case that not every state is submitting mental health records," Nelson said. "If FedEx can track a package around the world, how is it that the state and federal authorities can't track these prohibitive records?"

Washington began submitting records to the system in 2004, Nelson said. But the state background-check system remains fragmented, with each of the state's 291 police agencies charged with conducting state background checks for concealed pistol licenses.

Arriving at the Northwest Folklife Festival on May 24, 22-year-old Clinton Chad Grainger carried both his pistol and a concealed-weapons permit issued to him despite a history of mental illness. Hours later, he shot and wounded two people during an altercation.

The accidental shooting prompted Nickels to propose a ban on all guns from city-owned parks and buildings. That effort, LaBelle said, is still under way despite the attorney general's opinion.

LaBelle said the city needs greater "clarity" on state law, either from the Legislature or through the courts. She said the Mayor's Office has found 39 other Washington cities that already have restrictions on the books, which shows the issue is far from settled.

The opinion followed the line thought to be enshrined in a 1961 law stating that local gun rules "inconsistent" with state law are "pre-empted and repealed." Expressing a view backed by the attorney general's finding, Van De Wege said state law bans local governments from regulating guns.

Speaking more broadly, Van De Wege said he doesn't see a need for tighter restrictions on guns. The decline in crime rates around the state, he said, shows additional rules aren't needed.

"My concern, and I think a lot of my constituents' concern, is that we're going to end up punishing a lot of law-abiding citizens," he said. "They feel most comfortable carrying a gun, and they want to be able to do that."
LaBelle said the city is looking at only a single change. But she said city officials deserve the authority to protect citizens.

"The mayor has asked repeatedly for the Legislature to allow local representatives to create laws they think are right for their cities," she said. "It's obvious that it's a local concern."

The Mayor's Office plans to release an administrative order later this month in line with the earlier proposal. A public hearing would then take place in early December.



P-I reporter Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or levipulkkinen@seattlepi.com.
 
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And unfortunately in this state (like any other so-called "blue" state) the big liberal cities seem to set policy for the whole state. Hopefully the attorney general will be able to put an end to Nickels plan.

But this state (mostly big liberal cities) just re-elected a bunch of libs to state government so color me skeptical. :s0131:
 
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This crap is beginning to border on criminal. Nickels, you #%@*$ douche, these power limitations and safeguards are meant to protect the people from politicians EXACTLY LIKE YOU.
 
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But our bottom line is that we want to have common-sense gun laws.
What's the matter with you all? Are you against "common-sense"?

I absolutely hate that phrase. It's just cheap rhetoric to suggest that those who disagree with your position lack common-sense.

These proposals aren't common-sense. Common-sense dictates that you don't propose laws & rules that you know violate the constitution. The AG has already issued an opinion on this matter and they should leave it at that.

The only comfort I can find in all of this is that the City has a lousy record in court cases, so maybe they'll lose big-time on this one too.
 
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This is how liberal mongoloids like the mayor and his ilk define "common sense"...

Common sense: Disarm the law-abiding
Common sense: Improve working conditions for criminals
Common sense: Remove the equality of firearms so that, once again, the stronger or more numerous have the advantage
Common sense: Increase the danger to many to decrease the *perceived* danger to a few
Common sense: Restructure the very nature of man through legislation
Common sense: Utopia is achievable by force
 
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Well to me, common sense is to remove all illegal weapons from the community especially focusing on convicts and criminals. That doesn't mean impede on legally obtained legal weapons from law abiding citizens.
Well explain how to do this without limiting the rights of "legal" gunowners? If it truly is common sense then the explanation you provide, if you can, will be self evident. But I'll go ahead and toss my nickel into the hat here and say there is no way. The framers of the Constitution knew that, so they wrote it SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. Simple, and self evident. The only way to do it without infringing on the rights of everyone, is to allow everyone access to Arms. They were smarter than we are now, and we've been screwing it up ever since. The day we start to be more JPFO/GOA and less NRA the better.
 
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The only way to do it without infringing on the rights of everyone, is to allow everyone access to Arms.
Are you suggesting that we allow felons to possess firearms? If your argument is that you can't prohibit these folks from owning guns w/o infringing on the rights of the broader public, then I might point out that many (most?) are under supervision upon their release from prison and this creates an opportunity to verify whether they own guns w/o infringing on the rights of others to do so. Certainly, this verification becomes more difficult once they leave supervision, but depending on their future interactions with law enforcement, this can continue to be verified on occasion.
 
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Are you suggesting that we allow felons to possess firearms? If your argument is that you can't prohibit these folks from owning guns w/o infringing on the rights of the broader public, then I might point out that many (most?) are under supervision upon their release from prison and this creates an opportunity to verify whether they own guns w/o infringing on the rights of others to do so. Certainly, this verification becomes more difficult once they leave supervision, but depending on their future interactions with law enforcement, this can continue to be verified on occasion.
The law already allows felons to possess firearms, so why would I need to suggest it? If you had any idea of what you were getting excited about, you would already know about firearms rights restoration.

There are two groups of the population that can prove that there is absolutely no way to keep firearms out of the hands of people that aren't suppose to have them. Law Enforcement, and Felons. So I don't have to argue anything, that truth is self evident.

I would also suggest you learn a thing our two about our criminal justice system before you speculate as to how life on probation/parole really is, as being one who has taken that walk, I can assure you that the only "rules" that are adhered to are directly proportional to the convict's sense of morality.

My sense of morality is that God himself breathed the words of The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution, and that wiser men than what we have amongst us today made sure to write it down so we could read it for ourselves. So I ask what part of SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED don't you understand?
 
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I for one want to see felons and others currently permanently prohibited from legally owning firearms have a practical way to regain that option.
There is. http://www.washrecord.com/

State and Federal laws have provisions to reinstate firearms rights.

Been there, done that. Takes some time, but well worth the opportunity for reintegrating with society. Waiting on my concealed carry permit.
 

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