Op-Ed | Ignoring state gun laws is a slippery slope – Rep. David Taylor
A recent article in the Daily Sun (“Gun measure should be a no-go,” Dec. 16) took me to task for sponsoring legislation that, from an outsider's point of view, appears to create a new law allowing for firearms in stadiums and convention centers.
With all due respect to the author of the opinion piece, and to the Daily Sun, the article misses the mark.
I understand the temptation of painting a picture of booze-infused loons settling their differences with machine guns while the Seahawks go for it on fourth down, but this fear-driven, emotional argument is not even close to reality. Let me explain.
Under current law, it is illegal for local governments or other municipalities to enact rules preventing off-duty law enforcement and those with concealed pistol licenses (CPL) from carrying their firearms into stadiums and conventions centers. The language of the law could not be more clear. Here is the direct quote from RCW 9.41.300, subsection 2:
“Cities, town, counties, and other municipalities may enact laws and ordinances:
- Restricting the possession of firearms in any stadium or convention center, operated by a city, town, county, or other municipality, except that such restriction shall not apply to:
- Any pistol in the possession of a person licensed under RCW. 9.41.070 (concealed pistol license) or exempt from the licensing requirement by RCW 9.41.060 (a long list of marshals, sheriffs, correctional staff, members of the armed forces and other retired law enforcement).”
To further the point, this law was amended as recently as 2011 to add “certain correctional officers” to the exempt list. The legislation was sponsored by a Democrat and passed the House of Representatives 92-4. Where was the uproar then?
The bill I cosponsored, House Bill 1015, simply reiterates current state law. Why, you ask? Because current state law is being ignored. That's right. There was no legislation sponsored, no public hearings and no votes taken by elected officials.
The key part of this argument is “other municipality.” The law is clear that just because you're not officially labeled a “city, town or county,” that doesn't give other municipalities the right to do their own thing.
Recently, local governments have contracted out to allow Public Facilities Districts (PFD) to raise taxes and manage public facilities like stadiums and conventions centers. This is more prominent in larger cities like Seattle and Spokane, but also occurs in other cities.
The definition of a PFD is a “corporate municipality” – or, one could argue, “other municipality” under current state law. These “other municipalities” have started ignoring state law by not allowing those with CPLs and off-duty law enforcement from entering their premises.
However, for decades, these individuals have carried their firearms into Seattle Mariners games, Seattle Seahawk games, and other events in stadiums and convention centers around the state. Did anyone hear of complaints over the last decade or two? Were violent crimes committed?
If you own a CPL you have gone through a federal background check and have been fingerprinted. You're “in the system,” you know the law and, statistically, you are one of the least-likely groups of people to commit a violent offense.
A very recent report from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) reveals that from the 1950s through July 10, 2016, 98.4 percent of mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones. That's a startling statistic. Perhaps we should be addressing the ever-increasing desire to create more and more gun-free zones as they have proven to be dangerously ineffective.
Another report by the CPRC reveals that in our state (between 2005 and 2014) the growth rate for women getting CPLs was twice as fast as that of men. And those with CPLs are convicted of crimes at a rate one-seventh that of law enforcement.
The bottom line is this: if you want to change a law – fine. But do it legally. Do it in a way that is public, out in the open and where duly-elected officials can be held accountable for their vote. We can't allow entities to simply ignore state law because we “feel” it's ok, or because the NFL said so. That's a slippery slope no one wants to go down.
Besides, despite the emotional argument and fear mongering, you're probably seven times more likely to be hit by lightning in your lifetime than be the victim of a violent crime by a concealed pistol licensee.
(Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, is the ranking Republican on the House Local Government Committee.)