Not wanting to beat a dead horse I just had to revisit the issue of carrying firearms in Oak Harbor Parks, Marina and City Council Chambers.
Is this legal?
The answer is, that depends, it depends on whether you are causing “alarm” or not.
If you are carrying a concealed weapon and it remains concealed you are OK. As for open carry that question may still be open. Carrying an “assault rifle” from what I can find out may lead to prosecution under RCW 9.41.270.
RCW 9.41.270 states:
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.
There has been a Washington State Supreme Court decision that speaks to this issue in their decisions.
In State vs Spencer, 75 wash.app. 118 it was found that carrying an assault rifle with a clip inserted down a city street was indeed a violation of RCW 9.41.270.
A few excerpts from the decision:
“On August 19, 1991, at approximately 10 p.m., Spencer was taking a walk with his dog. He carried his AK-47 semiautomatic rifle, with the clip attached, on his shoulder as he walked.
A passing motorist, Verrill Olsen, saw Spencer and noticed that he was “walking briskly and carrying a rifle”. Olsen became concerned when he saw that the rifle had a clip attached to it. He approached some firefighters who were investigating a propane leak nearby and suggested that they call the police. Olsen then saw police officer Heather Wall and told her that a man was walking down the street with a “military rifle slung on his shoulder”.”
He was prosecuted for unlawfully displaying a weapon and found guilty. He appealed to the State Supreme Court and they upheld the decision. In the decision the Justice stated below:
“the statute does not prevent a person from carrying weapons in self-defense. Weapons may be carried in response to “presently threatened unlawful force by another”. RCW 9.41.270(3)(c). If there is no present threat, weapons must be carried in a manner that does not warrant alarm in others.”
So if you do carry a weapon openly and do “cause alarm” in others you could very well find yourself in the same predicament as the person in State vs Spencer.
When the issue concerning the firearm ordinances were before the City Council this possible issue was not known, at least to me or anyone else I talked with. And here is the problem. It could, at that time, have been possibly been considered by some in the audience “alarming” and that would place the firearm holder under jeopardy under RCW 9.41.270.
Now I am NOT a lawyer and I am not trying to pretend to be I just thought I would throw this out for so others would know also…
Weapons apparently capable of producing bodily harm — Unlawful carrying or handling — Penalty — Exceptions.
THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent, v. RANDOLPH J. SPENCER, Petitioner.