Friday, November 27, 2009

Guns, Seattle, And The Constitution

A man who carried a pistol into a West Seattle community center two weeks ago to protest Seattle's new ban on guns in public spaces on Friday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, saying the policy violates the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as state law.

Bob Warden addresses the media outside Southwest Community Center on Saturday November 14, 2009 in Seattle. He walked into the city-owned building, while carrying a concealed handgun, to begin his legal challenge to the City of Seattle's ban on firearms on city property. (Joshua Trujillo, Warden wants the gun ban repealed. He also wants his attorneys' fees paid for, nominal damages in the amount of "one dollar" and unspecified punitive damages against Mayor Greg Nickels to "effectively deter future Washington municipal officials from behaving with reckless or callous disregard for federally protected rights."

In late October gun rights advocates - including the Second Amendment Foundation - filed their own lawsuit against the gun ban in King County Superior Court. At that time Ruth Bowman of the Seattle City Attorney's office, said the city's policy was put in place to protect "our most vulnerable and defenseless citizens, our children."

In September Nickels announced his rule to ban guns in more than 500 Parks and Recreations Department facilities across Seattle where children and youth go - places like sports fields, playgrounds and swimming pools. Signs are posted that say firearms are prohibited as a condition of entry into the facilities.

Nickels' announcement was his latest attempt to ban firearms from city property. The mayor began efforts after a man shot and injured three people at the 2008 Folklife Festival at Seattle Center.

But an opinion issued late last year by Attorney General Rob McKenna's office said cities lack the authority to ban guns because local laws would conflict with state regulations.

In his lawsuit Warden says Nickels' policy violates the Second (the right to keep and bear arms) and Fourth (prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures) amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Seattle P.I. Blogs
by Chris Grygiel at November 27, 2009 12:25 p.m.

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