BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association and five local residents today filed a lawsuit challenging a new Seattle parks regulation that bans firearms, arguing that the ban violates Washington State’s long-standing preemption statute. They are joined by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Washington Arms Collectors.
The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court names the City of Seattle, Mayor Greg Nickels and Timothy Gallagher, superintendent of Parks and Recreation, as defendants. Plaintiffs are represented by Seattle attorney Steve Fogg with the Seattle law firm of Corr, Cronin, Michelson, Baumgardner & Preece LLC.
“This ban violates Washington’s 26-year-old model preemption statute,” noted SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The ban makes it impossible, under threat of criminal trespass penalty, to lawfully carry firearms for the protection of spouses, partners and children on public property where these citizens have a right to be. We are once again delighted to be joined by the NRA in this action. Our successful collaborations in the past stopped illegal gun confiscations in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and nullified an illegal gun ban in the City of San Francisco.”
Individual plaintiffs in the case are:
Winnie Chan, a Department of Corrections employee who lives in Seattle and works in West Seattle. When she is not on-duty, she often carries her personal concealed handgun, particularly when she is going to be in unfamiliar locations, out late at night, or in large/crowded places. (DOC policy prohibits her from carrying her state-issued firearm when she is off-duty, and therefore she owns a personal firearm.) She is concerned that people she has encountered on the job may be disgruntled and pose a threat to her safety. She sometimes visits Lincoln Park for recreation, and she has seen a sign prohibiting firearms there.
Ray Carter, also a West Seattle resident employed as a car salesman at MC Electric Vehicles in Seattle. He is active in the gay community; he co-chaired the Pride Parade in the mid-1990s and founded the Seattle Chapter of Pink Pistols/Cease Fear. He has testified in Olympia and at City Hall regarding gun bans. The Seattle Weekly wrote an article about Ray in June 2000 entitled “Gays and Guns.” He carries his concealed pistol any place where it is legal, and he believes this is necessary because he is susceptible to hate-related crimes. Ray sometimes visits Lincoln Park and Alki Beach, and he states that he has seen signs prohibiting firearms at those locations.
Gary Goedecke, owner and proprietor of Pikeplace Marketwear, a 35-year old business at Pike Place Market. A Bothell resident, he has been actively involved with the Pike Place Market for years. Gary is an avid gun owner and carries a concealed pistol wherever he can. Gary notes that Steinbrook Park is directly adjacent to the Market and is a very dangerous place; he fears for the safety of his wife (who also works at the Market) and his employees.
Gray Peterson of Lynnwood, who often visits Seattle parks facilities with his domestic partner. Active in the Seattle-area gay community, Peterson is licensed to carry a concealed firearm and does so where it is lawfully permitted because of concerns that he is susceptible to becoming a victim of hate-related crimes. Signs have been posted at some of his favorite parks that prohibit firearms possession.
Robert Kennar, a Department of Corrections employee and resident of Federal Way. He frequently works in Seattle and visits parks and recreation facilities. Kennar has been a crime victim and he often observes criminal activity in Seattle. He is licensed to carry a concealed handgun and always carries his personal firearm when not on duty where he is permitted to do so. He is concerned about retaliation from people he encounters in his line of work. Kennar enjoys visiting Seattle parks, but one of his favorite parks now displays a sign prohibiting firearms.
“This ban affects the rights of all Washington citizens who may visit Seattle parks property and recreation facilities, and especially thousands of Seattle gun owners, many of whom are members of both organizations,” Gottlieb stated. “It essentially impairs the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms for personal protection, which is explicitly protected by Article 1, Section 24 of the state constitution.”
Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna has issued an opinion that the ban is illegal. Under provisions of the ban, legally-armed citizens face arrest for criminal trespass if they enter park property.
“The parks ban is a going-away gift of sour grapes from ousted Mayor Greg Nickels to the citizens of Seattle,” Gottlieb observed. “He is leaving a mess for his successor, and the taxpayers who rejected his third term bid, to clean up.”