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Seattle Officials Want Local Control Of Gun Laws

Amy Radil

Wednesday afternoon, as shootings unfolded in two locations in Seattle, a panel at the Republican party convention in Tacoma addressed "Defending the Second Amendment," the right to bear arms. It seems that Seattle officials and gun rights supporters will be facing off in Olympia next year on the issue of gun violence.


Seattle Police have recovered two semiautomatic handguns that they believe were used by Ian Stawicki in the shooting deaths of five people Wednesday. Stawicki later shot himself as police closed in.

Stawicki also had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. While Stawicki's family members say he was mentally ill, mental illness only precludes gun ownership if the person has been civilly committed for 14 days or more. Stawicki had had some brushes with the law but no criminal convictions that also would have ruled out a legal gun purchase.

Seattle officials say recent shootings have given them renewed interest in seeking tighter gun regulations. To do that, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says they need to get rid of the state "preemption" law.

McGinn: "We do believe that state law should be changed and we should have the authority to have our own regulations."

Regulations that would let Seattle restrict access to guns. Seattle's recent attempt to ban guns in public parks was ruled invalid by the courts.

Dave Workman is an editor at, at the Bellevue–based Second Amendment Foundation. He disagrees with McGinn. Workman says having a uniform state law makes sense.

Workman: "Quite frankly the only beef that seems to be made anymore about that comes from the city of Seattle. They want to set themselves up as a city–state over there where citizens living in the rest of Washington state driving through Seattle might find themselves facing a whole different set of rules."

Workman says his heart goes out to the families of the victims, but he doesn't think Stawicki's actions could have been prevented.

Workman: "I don't know that there's anything you can do in these situations. We can't treat him like a child, he's got his own life to live and he can make his own mistakes no matter how horrific those mistakes turn out to be."

But Washington Ceasefire says changing gun laws can make a difference. Ralph Fascitelli is the board president.

Fascitelli: "Too often we see all this energy and angst and then the cycle blows over and the politicians sit on their hands and do nothing. Now we don't fault the politicians in Seattle because they don't have the power."

Fascitelli says it's the governor and state legislators who do have the power to change state law and to close the "gun show loophole."

Fascitelli: "So at these gun shows there are federally licensed regular dealers and they follow the protocol. And then there's these so–called private sellers that can sell whatever they want."

In Washington state those private sellers don't have to perform background checks. Seattle officials say they'll lobby to change that at the state Legislature.

There is one point of harmony between the Second Amendment Foundation and Washington Ceasefire. Both groups dismiss Seattle officials' proposal to create a safe drop–off site for firearms. Workman says this would allow criminals to dispose of their guns. Ceasefire's Fascitelli says the drop–off would be symbolic and yield few results.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

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