Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels does not have the authority to prohibit guns on public property, says Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. McKenna’s opinion, which had been requested by state legislators, is nonbinding, so the city can proceed with its gun prohibition on public property. But historically, such opinions have been given great weight in court, reports the Seattle Times. Nickels said the ban is needed for public safety. “While we appreciate the Attorney General’s opinion, we have a moral responsibility to pursue common-sense gun laws,” he said.
In May, a man who had a concealed-weapons permit fired a gun at Seattle Center’s Northwest Folklife festival and wounded three other people. Two weeks later Nickels issued an executive order directing city departments to come up with a plan to make city facilities He said the city would post signs about the ban on city property, and would charge people who violated it with trespassing. The Mayor’s Office is now drafting an administrative rule and plans to hold a public hearing. Many questioned whether the city had the authority to restrict firearms, and two pro-gun groups say they plan a legal challenge to the order.