SEATTLE — On Wednesday, Seattle leaders expressed frustration not just at the shootings in Connecticut, but at the fact that their hands are pretty much tied from enacting gun control measures.
That’s because Washington state law prohibits cities from passing their own rules when it comes to firearms. They’re stuck with whatever comes out of Olympia. And right now, those laws are pretty permissive.
For instance, Washington doesn’t have an assault weapons ban like some states do.
“We have to take it to the people,” said Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “I don’t want to wait on Olympia. I think that’s been a proven ineffective technique.”
Harrell wants a statewide citizen initiative that would allow cities to enact guns control laws of their own. Such an effort would require about 250,000 signatures.
“We want to get this on the ballot,” he said.
Harrell argues that if local jurisdictions were allowed to chart their own course when it came to gun laws than Seattle would be a safer place.
“We just want our ability, for example, to prohibit guns in parks, to prohibit people who are intoxicated from having a handgun, to require background checks when someone applies for a concealed weapons permit,” he said.
Seattle’s Police Chief, John Diaz, expressed support for the idea of going to the people.
“If we can’t do it as a country, if we can’t do it as an individual state, then we have to look at what we can do as a city,” he said.
A statewide initiative on gun control is no sure thing. A measure that would have required trigger locks back in the 90s failed by a big margin.