SEATTLE — Seattle public libraries are places to read and research, study or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
Now it’s also a place for handguns, whether carried concealed or where everyone can see.
“It’s out there on the streets so it might as well be in here as well,” library visitor Randy Larson said.
“It’s a gun and it can go off very quickly and has really bad results,” library visitor Catherine Reynolds said.
The city of Seattle has for years tried to ban guns in public places, even though the state Constitution grants citizens that right.
Library officials voted to make the change and allow guns inside, but in reality they had no choice.
“The reason for the rule change is the Seattle Public Libraries needs to be in compliance with state law around firearms,” Seattle public library spokeswoman Andra Addison said.
Where one can carry a gun has long been a big issue for those on both sides of the gun debate.
“It’s a terrible idea, absolutely terrible idea,” said Ralph Fascitelli, spokesman for the gun-safety organization Washington CeaseFire.
“Whether it’s a good idea or bad idea, they have to comply with state law,” said Dave Workman, spokesman for the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation.
The foundation filed a successful lawsuit to stop Seattle’s ban on guns in parks.
Workman said that lifting the decades-old ban on libraries is long overdue.
“This may come as a shock to some of the people at the Seattle library system, but armed citizens have been going in and using that facility for years. Now is the time for the Seattle library system to comply with the state law and they’re doing that and that’s the responsible thing to do,” Workman said.
Washington CeaseFire disagrees.
“Cities like Seattle that want to protect their people can’t. They can’t protect them in parks. They can’t protect them in libraries. And like I say, it’s a bad law. It’s a bad law because where you have guns you have gun violence,” Fascitelli said.