The Time to Stop the Carnage is Now; Enforcing Washington State’s Firearms Preemption Law

Advocates for Change. The Law Office of Mark Knapp PLLC has persuaded many municipalities to make municipal laws and policies compliant with Washington State’s Firearms Preemption law.  Thus, state, municipal, and private institutions are discussing whether to change their policies. There is increasing recognition that armed citizens can help stop random violence. Throughout these institutions there is also a tendency not to discuss the issue publicly. Some will not discuss the issue at all. We all need to bring pressure to bear to call attention to state and municipal organizations that interpret laws in ways that violate plain legislative intent and endanger the public.

Statistics Can Prove Anything. However, many articles have now been written by security experts, public safety professionals, economists, doctors and Second Amendment advocates. Most of the discussions only generate massive statistics that confirm whatever you want to believe. Nevertheless, the Spokane Public Facilities District that operates the Spokane Arena, Performing Arts Center (Opera House) and the Convention Center in Spokane has made up its mind that it will continue violating the plain language of Washington state law. Apparently they intend to do so until it is forced to change its policy of prohibiting concealed carry permit holders on its premises.

Litigating for Compliance. We recently filed a legal action for a Writ of Prohibition asking the Spokane County Superior Court to stop the Spokane Public Facilities District from violating the Washington state’s firearms preemption law. That law specifically allows concealed carry holders to bear arms in stadiums and convention centers. The District’s lawyers successfully argued that procedural issues stood in the way of the judge granting our requests.

Elton John for the Defense. But the most interesting argument the defense offered to the judge was not procedural. Nor did the District’s lawyers cite statistics. Instead they argued that Elton John performed at the Spokane Arena in the past. Elton allegedly knows that fifty people were killed at the Pulse nightclub and 130 were killed at the Bataclan theatre in Paris. Thus, according to the briefing that the District’s attorneys filed in the case, Elton John and others might be reluctant to perform in Spokane!

Definition of Proprietary. The attorneys also argued that the Spokane Arena is a “proprietary” municipal facility. In other words, they argued that the District’s properties earn revenue, and are therefore utilized for proprietary activities. This somehow justifies violating the legislature’s clear intent when the lawmakers in Olympia enacted the firearms preemption law. RCW 9.41.300 specifically addresses concealed carry and law enforcement carrying guns in stadiums and convention centers.

ISIS Attacks in France and Florida. Some will claim that the shooters in Paris and Orlando could not have been stopped. Not even with armed citizens at those venues. In Paris, three groups of trained ISIS attackers were involved in six coordinated attacks at various locations. There were also four suicide bombings, and shootings at four different locations. Three explosions occurred near a stadium and two of the Bataclan killers also detonated suicide vests. There might have been some armed citizens that failed to act during the slaughter in Paris. It seems unlikely, however, because concealed carry is illegal all over Europe. What about Orlando, Florida? We have no statistics. But Orlando’s Pulse Bar was a ‘”Gun Free Zone” by Florida state law.

Sutherland, Texas Church Shooting. An anecdote is often more persuasive than politicized statistics. One startling episode occurred at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas in which a lone gunman gunned down 26 churchgoers. The Sutherland Springs killer wounded many of the victims and then proceeded to shoot them execution-style while the victims lay bleeding on the floor.

Good Samaritan With AR-15 Appears. One woman lying on the floor looked at the killer’s feet approaching. She looked into the eyes of her friend beside her. She watched her friend’s face as a bullet entered into the other woman’s head. She resigned herself that she was to be the next victim. Then a church neighbor armed with a so-called assault rifle engaged the killer, wounded him, and stopped the carnage.

Garland Attack. In Garland, Texas, one police officer armed with a Glock pistol engaged in a gunfight with two ISIS gunmen who were exchanging fire with rifles. Officer Greg Stevens stopped both of the attackers dead by approaching them from 75 feet away and closing the distance with deliberate, aimed shots while on the move. That was the first- and one of the only- ISIS attacks on American soil.

Tough Choices. The dead church-goers, armed neighbor and Greg Stevens don’t prove that more guns in  churches could help. The fact remains that America and other nations now face a serious situation that needs to be confronted with resolve, not dithering. There are no simple answers, just difficult choices.

Issue Already Decided. Notwithstanding Elton John’s sensibilities and whether an injunction would have been more successful than our Writ of Prohibition, the Washington state legislature has already decided the issue of whether it is proper to allow concealed pistol license holders and law enforcement into the Spokane Arena with handguns. Airports, counties, city councils and the City of Seattle have all repealed illegal policies or lost such firearms preemption issues in court.

The Legislature Decides. If you were lying on the floor in pools of blood expecting to be executed like the Texas churchgoers or horribly mutilated like many of the victims in Paris, would you want some armed neighbors in the room? The legislature has already answered the question for you.

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