SEATTLE-Mayor Greg Nickels today took steps to prohibit firearms on all property owned by the city of Seattle, including parks and community centers.
An executive order signed today directs all city departments to inventory rules, policies and leases relating to guns. It also directs city departments to report back to the mayor’s office within 30 days with a plan to implement a gun-free policy.
A public hearing will be held to gather comment. The order does not require City Council approval.
When it goes into effect, the order will place gun prohibition notices at city facilities. Organizations that put on events at Seattle Center will establish their own ways to enforce the new rule. Seattle Police will develop protocols for people with concealed weapons permits.
The order follows the May 24 shooting at Folklife Festival which injured three people. The suspect was issued a concealed weapons permit last year, even with a history of drug abuse and mental health problems.
“The reason for this executive order is simple: our parks, community centers and events are safer without guns, period,” said Nickels. “We cannot wait for another incident, another victim. We need to act, and we need the Legislature to pass common-sense guns laws.”
“I commend Mayor Nickels for his leadership in issuing this order,” said State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, representing the 36th District. “This responsible action will protect our citizens, our families, and our children so that they may enjoy the Folklife Festival and other events without fear of gunfire erupting and their lives being endangered. I will continue to work with the city of Seattle to pass reasonable and essential legislation in the Legislature.”
“This order will assist the officers in protecting Seattle’s residents and visitors particularly at civic events,” said Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.
Currently, Seattle Center and most city facilities such as City Hall have rules prohibiting firearms unless the person has a concealed weapons permit. The Seattle Public Library restricts all firearms, and people cannot bring guns to events at community centers. Organizations that lease Key Arena also have the ability to prohibit firearms in the facility. State law prevents firearms on the grounds of schools, jails and courthouses.
While the state preempts all criminal laws related to firearms, a recent Washington Supreme Court case recognized that cities could adopt rules that regulate guns on city property: Northwest Shooting Park Association v. City of Sequim, 158 Wn. 2nd 342 (2006)
The city of Seattle has been actively working on local, regional and national strategies to reduce gun violence. Nickels is a founding member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is promoting federal legislation to assist law enforcement in combating gun trafficking. The Seattle Police Department has taken a leading role in working with local and federal law enforcement agencies to fight gun crime.
Nickels has urged lawmakers in Olympia to ban assault weapons, close the gun show loophole that allows criminals to buy weapons without background checks, deny guns to anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility and require trigger locks and safe storage of firearms.