Seattle still fighting for gun ban in city parks



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Posted on June 28, 2010 at 6:02 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 1 at 10:23 AM

SEATTLE - For a summer day at the beach, people pack a lot of stuff. But should packing a gun be allowed?

Michaela Kohmetscher says "no." She was strolling along Alki Beach Park with her daughter this afternoon.

"There’s children in the park, and there's just no place for guns,” she said.

Chantae Gilman of Seattle agreed.

"My opinion is that guns should not be allowed in parks," Gilman said. "It’s not safe."

But Bob, a tourist from Wisconsin who didn’t want his last name used, said people should have the right to carry a gun if they’re doing so legally.

"If you're out there in the public and you're carrying it for protection, if you have a legal permit to do that, then I don't see any problem with it," he said.

A shooting at the heavily attended Seattle Folk Life festival in 2008 prompted then-Mayor Greg Nickels to issue an executive order on his way out of office banning guns from places where families and children gather.

But the ban was short lived.

"We have absolutely no doubt that this ban in unconstitutional," said Alan Gottleib of the Second Amendment Foundation when the ban was instated.

Months after signs prohibiting firearms went up around Seattle parks, they came down. A King County judge ruled that the ban violates state law.

But the city is appealing.

"Our position is this is not a law or an ordinance," said Bob Scales, Supervisor of the Government Affairs Section of the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. "It's a rule, a condition of entry to the park - just like no smoking, no drinking and no camping."

There are a lot of rules about what you can and can't do in a city park.

But gun rights advocates say today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court should kill off Seattle's attempts to revive a handgun ban. In a five-to-four decision, justices struck down Chicago's ban on handguns, considered the most restrictive in the country.

The high court ruled the second amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms in state and local jurisdictions.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he hasn't yet read the Supreme Court ruling but he will continue to look for ways to make public places safer.

"We're not the only city across the state that looks for flexibility to ban guns from parks, pools or community centers where appropriate. A lot of cities want that flexibility," McGinn said.