A Citizen Comments- This entire guns / parks issue was a NON ISSUE to start with

This entire guns / parks issue was a NON ISSUE to start with.

It’s been legal to carry firearms in the city parks since 1994 when the state preemption law went into effect.

If you or the paper you represent had any clue on how to actually do investigative journalism you would have found that in 1965 the city passed a code that made it illegal to carry a firearm into city parks.

6.14.070 Firearms and fireworks.

It is unlawful to shoot, fire or explode any firearm, fireworks, firecrackers, torpedo or explosive of any kind or to carry any firearm or to shoot or fire any air gun, bows and arrows, B.B. gun or use any slingshot in any park without the written permission of the council. (Ord. 214 § 8, 1965).


If you had investigated further you would have found that when the city changed its charter in 1974 it adopted a rule that kept all previous code and laws in place and in effect that were in effect prior to the city changing its charter.

1.16.040 Existing city laws and regulations.

All ordinances, resolutions and orders adopted under the third class city classification,

*where not in conflict with state law,*

shall continue in force until repealed or amended by the city council under the newly adopted optional municipal code classification of Noncharter Code City under the mayor council form of government. (Ord. 364 § 4, 1974).


In 1994 the state adopted a preemption law concerning firearms.

One of the reasons why this preemption law was placed into effect was to ensure that all cities and counties in Washington State were on the same page concerning firearms.

Imagine what a simple drive down I-5 might be like if each city and county adopted their own codes on firearms. You might be a felon in King county, but in Snohomish county it’s perfectly legal.

RCW 9.41.290

State preemption.

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

Effective date — 1994


Why do I bring this up?

It’s been perfectly legal to carry a firearm in the city parks since 1994.

Has there been an issue with firearms in city parks?

I’ll be that the nice people at the Oak Harbor police department could look up how many people have been arrested, charged and convicted for carrying a firearm in Oak Harbor city parks since 1994.

My best guess is that I won’t need to use more than 5 fingers to count them up.

Is there an ongoing issue in the city parks concerning firearms that you and your paper have not been reporting?

Had the city council done the job that it was hired to do (look out for the best interests of people and city of Oak Harbor) they would put aside personal agendas and done what was in the best interests of the city.

Here is how I would have liked to have seen the timeline unfold):

SAF contacts the city of Oak Harbor about the wording in the city code concerning firearms and the city parks.

The city vets the SAF’s issue through the city attorney.

The city attorney finds and presents the facts to the city council, that as written the city code concerning firearms and the city parks is in violation with the states preemption law and that since the code that\’s in conflict with the preemption law has been nullified by the city charter code there are two courses of action the city council can take.

1. To inform the SAF that the city code concerning firearms in city parks is nullified by the city charter change adoption of the Oak Harbor city codes and by the states preemption law.

2. To inform the SAF that the city is going to change the code concerning firearms in city parks to bring it in line with the states preemption law.

No need for grandstanding or attention whoring by any members of the city council, just a small city code change to ensure that the city is following the laws, much like the city council expects the citizens of Oak Harbor to follow the law.

This would have never gained the attention of national Youtube video media or the attention of the main stream media had the city council followed the law.

I have to wonder if you and everyone else who is still whining about non-issue this has any common sense about them.

Before this was an issue people were concealed carrying firearms in the city parks and city hall with no issues.

You would never know who was carrying because CONCEALED MEANS CONCEALED.

You would never know if that person who was carrying the firearm was legal to carry a firearm or not.

If our elected state level officials change the states preemption law to include allowing cities to pass laws banning the carry of firearms at city hall and parks does this mean there will be an end to it?

How are you going to know who’s following the law and who\’s not.

City hall would be easy, place a metal detector at the entrance of city hall and have an armed police officer frisk everyone going into city hall.

Regarding the parks, there’s no way to make a single point entrance-exit for all city parks, let alone have a metal detector and an armed police officer scan each and everyone who goes into the park.

Do you suggest random searches? Perhaps the police will ask people in the parks to hand over their identification card and then detain them while the perform a body cavity search looking for firearms.

I seriously doubt that is going to happen.

As a side note, why do you feel the need to go to the tired anti-gunner brady bunch description of firearms in your letter?

With the exception of a very small minority, Washington state residents cannot own “assault rifles” in Washington State.

I seriously doubt that someone is going to take a firearm that’s worth a minimum of $16,000 dollars and bring it into the city park “just because”.

At the last city council meeting there was ONE rifle carried into city hall, and it was FAR from being an “assault rifle”.

Have a ham sammich on me.

Joe Hawkins- Oak Harbor


  1. “If you or the paper you represent had any clue on how to actually do investigative journalism…”

    I am not sure if, in this case, serious investigative journalism was even required. Seems to me that 95% of what anyone likely needed to know about this local issue was clearly delineated on pages 45-52 of the City Council reading packet for the Dec 04, 2012 meeting, located here:


    Assuming Jessie Stensland actually read that reading packet (she covered that meeting as the WNT reporter), she likely knew just about what every other member of the City Council knew at that point in time, too.

    Amazingly, however, of the six City Council members in attendance at that 04 December meeting, only Councilman Jim Campbell demonstrated that he was capable of acting and voting appropriately at that meeting on this issue.

    Fast-forward to this past Tuesday’s, 05 Feb, 2013 meeting, with three major-network television cameras trained on them, the other members of the Oak Harbor City Council finally came to their senses and put an end to this local municipal fiasco.

    However, Black Rock Press, Sound Publishing, and the Whidbey News-Times, with Jessie Stansland as their chosen “point man”, has apparently chosen NOT to end this issue whatsoever.

  2. Bill, what I am pointing out is that there already was a coding in place that took care of this issue, that the city council should have acted right away and that Jessie Stensland is ignorant. ;-)

    1. 100% agreed: “there already was a coding in place that took care of this issue, that the city council should have acted right away”

      Not 100% sure about how “Jessie Stensland is ignorant”. Either she is truly ignorant (which speaks poorly of her skills as a reporter) or she feigns ignorance (which makes her a disingenuous reporter / editorial writer). In either case, her position as “Assistant Editor” is troubling.

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