Olympia restricts open carry firearms in city hall, other locations

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The Olympia City council approved an ordinance that echos a new state law prohibiting open carry of firearms and other weapons in city hall, council chambers or any locations used in connection with public meetings of the city's governing body.

Gun restrictions “would include Olympia City Hall, these council chambers, Room 207, where there are meetings of boards, commissions and committees. But likewise, the maintenance center for Olympia where the utilities advisory committee meets," Olympia city attorney Mark Barber told the council members during the meeting last night.

Citing the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 42.30.020 of the Open Public Meetings Act, Barberdefined the term "governing body" as the "multimember board, commission, committee, council, or other policy or rule-making body of a public agency, or any committee thereof when the committee acts on behalf of the governing body, conducts hearings, or takes testimony or public comment."

According to Barber, the ordinance resulted from Engrossed Substitute House Bill (ESHB) 1630, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on March 23, 2022, which took effect on June 9. ESHB 1630 establishes restrictions on the possession of weapons in specific locations.

A few weeks after the law was passed, numerous mass shootings occurred across the United States, including the Buffalo, New York incident that killed 10 people; and Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed.
"In both instances, the shooters were individuals armed and openly carrying AR-15 assault rifles. Over 10 additional mass shootings continued across the United States over the Memorial Day weekend, resulting in numerous additional deaths and injuries in communities nationwide," the Olympia ordinance stated.

Aside from firearms, Barber said prohibited weapons include brass knuckles, knives, daggers, and other similar weapons that are capable of causing death or injury and that are listed under RCW 9.41.301B.

Barber added that the law exempts law enforcement officers, members of the armed forces, the United States, or the state of Washington, and the National Guard when carrying a firearm in the discharge of their official duty.

The ordinance stated it is punishable as a misdemeanor on the first offense, with subsequent violations ccounted as gross misdemeanors.

“A misdemeanor is punishable up to 90 days and/or fined up to $1,000; (a) gross misdemeanor is punishable up to one year, which means 364 days, potentially in jail and find out up to $5,000," Barber said.

"So the thing that's unique about this is that I've been waiting 25 years to see this sort of legislation passed by our state legislature, recognizing that democracy is endangered if people are sitting in the gallery open carrying firearms,” Barber commented.

“It's intimidating,” the city attorney added, and that's a personal point,".

The councilmembers, except for Lisa Parshley who was absent, unanimously approved the ordinance.

Councilmember Jim Cooper commented the legislation that they just voted on does not go far enough.

"We still don't have the ability to regulate all of our public facilities,” remarked Cooper “I would love to continue the conversation with the Legislature as part of our legislative agenda as we look at other public gathering places in the community that deserve the same protection we gave ourselves."

Barber said the Washington State had preempted regulation of firearms by cities, towns and counties.

"It is found in RCW 9.41.290. To paraphrase, the State of Washington fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the state's boundaries.” Barber commented.

“It further goes on later in that section to state and cities, towns and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law."

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  • Claire

    One more step by the feckless, virtue-signaling City Council to restrict your rights. Don't buy it! Fight back. Unless you don't care. I do!

    Thursday, June 23 Report this

  • JulesJames

    We are a nation governed by law, not violence - or the perceived threat of violence if the vote turns out wrong. Guns defend the democracy on the village green, but threaten it inside the town hall.

    Thursday, June 23 Report this

  • Miller19

    Lame.

    Thursday, June 23 Report this