Seattle Officials ‘Powerless’ Against Gun Violence

Barring a change in state law, guns will remain out of the city's control.

Prior to taking the lives of five innocent people before ending his own, Ian Stawicki was mad, but not quite mad enough. He punched out his brother and broke his girlfriend’s nose. His wild-eyed anger scared people. His father thought he was “crazy.” But under state law he couldn’t be forcibly committed. Yet he could legally carry a gun, and owned six of them.

Stawicki was permitted to do so under the state’s “shall issue” law, which says that officials must award concealed-weapons permits to anyone who meets the standards, even if police think the applicant is dangerous. Seattle, mostly going it alone on the gun-control front, keeps running into the state’s “preemption” law. As RCW 9.41.290 puts it, “the state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation. Local laws that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted, regardless of the nature of the code.” Thus Seattle can’t even outlaw guns in parks, for example, since the rest of the state doesn’t.

As Washington CeaseFire leader Ralph Fascitelli says, “The state law of preemption is also preventing the city from banning semi-automatic assault weapons similar to the ones that killed young Aaron Sullivan of Leschi a few years back, as well as a Seattle police officer on Halloween night in 2009.”

The truth is, he says, “There is little the city can do to reduce gun violence as long as our elected state officials continue to cave in to the extremist gun-rights agenda.” He accuses House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) of saying he’s for change but never pushing for it, failing to close that much-loathed gun-show loophole that aids the free flow of cheap handguns.

More police patrols will not make a difference, adds Fascitelli. “The only way to stem gun violence is to reduce the flow of guns into Seattle, and that requires bold action in Olympia so elected officials in Seattle can take the necessary steps. Until that change takes place, city officials are virtually powerless to stop the bloodshed.”




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

Screenshot from Barnes and Noble website
Cover art of books that KSD Librarian Gavin Downing says have been under fire: “Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts),” by Lev A.C. Rosen, “If I Was Your Girl,” by Meredith Russo, and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George Matthew Johnson.
Kent middle school librarian wins intellectual freedom award

Gavin Downing refused to keep ‘silence in the library’ amid attempted book banning and censorship.

t
Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

Joann and Allan Thomas are flanked in court by their attorneys Terrence Kellogg (fourth from the right) and John Henry Browne (far right) on May 10, 2022. Judge Richard Jones is presiding over the case. Sketch by Seattle-based artist Lois Silver
At drainage district corruption trial, it’s a tale of dueling conspiracies

Allan and Joann Thomas are in trial in Seattle on fraud charges.

King County logo
King County audit finds backlog of property tax exemption applications for seniors, people with disabilities, and disabled veterans

The auditors found that program expansions lead to three-times the amount of applications.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson (Screenshot from video press conference)
AG announces $518 million settlement from pharmaceutical companies over their role in opioid crisis

Most of the settlement money will be used to mitigate the opioid crisis in Washington.

Most Read