Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels plans a public hearing Dec. 15 on his plan to ban guns on city property, including at parks, sporting events, and street fairs, reports the Los Angeles Times. In a state where more than 239,000 residents have permits to carry concealed weapons — and many consider a gun in their pocket a better deterrent to street crime than any law — the proposal appears almost certain to become a major gun control battle in a year when the courts and possibly President-elect Barack Obama could redefine the national debate. [The Times offered no evidence that Obama will pursue a gun-control agenda.]
After a Supreme Court ruling that the 2nd Amendment explicitly protects the right to own guns for self-defense, gun rights advocates are gearing up for a new round of court cases in California, Chicago, and elsewhere. In Seattle, the battle will be over a Washington state law that specifically reserves the “entire field of firearms regulation” to the state. Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske says that laws like Washington’s, which require the issuance of concealed-weapons permits to anyone who meets the standards, are too lax. Although Seattle has problems with gang violence in the suburbs, relatively little of the recent downtown crime has involved guns, which is one reason not many residents are lining up to support the mayor’s proposed gun ban.