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Coupeville shoots down gun sales on South Main

The Coupeville Town Council unanimously decided to ban the sale of firearms near schools.

The Town Council Tuesday evening approved an ordinance banning firearms sales within 1,000 feet of schools. Since South Main Street is basically book-ended by Coupeville Middle and High School and Coupeville Elementary School, gun sales would be effectively banned on the south end of Coupeville.

Town Planner Larry Kwarsick said the idea for the gun sale ordinance arose when a person several weeks ago inquired about the possibility of opening a sporting goods store on South Main Street. The sporting goods store would have sold guns. He said a formal application was never filed at Town Hall.

The potential of guns being sold so close to students prompted Kwarsick to research the town’s regulations to determine what kind of potential restrictions should be enacted.

“I just felt it was of paramount importance,” Kwarsick said Tuesday night.

In researching possible language for the ordinance, officials found two different standards could be applied in determining the length of a school zone — the state standard is 500 feet from school property while the federal standard is 1,000 feet.

Kwarsick recommended the town use the federal standard to ensure that no gun sales take place on South Main Street. Apparently there is a building on South Main within a 500-foot buffer where it was conceivable that guns could be legally sold.

Councilman Bob Clay questioned whether the new ordinance could apply to the Boys and Girls Club located next to Whidbey General Hospital on North Main Street. Kwarsick said the ordinance applies to schools but not to organizations that serve school-age children.

Councilwoman Molly Hughes asked if gun sales could take place near the Montessori school on Coveland Street.

Kwarsick said town staff will interpret the definition of schools broadly and prohibit gun sales on Coveland near the school.

“We want to err on the side of the protection of children,” Kwarsick said.

Mayor Nancy Conard said she wasn’t sure a restriction near a Montessori school would survive a legal challenge.

Council members Ann Dannhauer, Molly Hughes, Dianne Binder and Bob Clay voted for the ordinance while Tom Tack was absent.

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