Armed men criticize Oak Harbor City Council for banning guns in parks

A couple of pistol-packing citizens asked the Oak Harbor City Council Wednesday to reconsider changing a city code that bans firearms from city parks, but city leaders took no action.

John Havercroft, who’s stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, argued that the council members decision not to change the code “amounts to nothing less than a criminal act.” He attended the meeting armed with a handgun.

He said the council members have an “absolute duty as sworn public servants to uphold Washington state law” and, therefore, should amend the code to allow people to bring guns to parks.

Likewise, Oak Harbor resident Brad Price, who was also armed, urged the council to adopt a measure that falls in line with a state Supreme Court decision which threw out the City of Seattle’s ban on guns in parks.

The issue came up at the last city council meeting when interim City Attorney Grant Weed advised the council members to amend the city’s code so it follows state law. He had received a letter from the Second Amendment Foundation, pointing out that several sections of city code violate state law by prohibiting the carrying and display of firearms in city parks and the marina.

In light of the school shooting in Connecticut, the majority of council members elected not to change the city code. Councilman Rick Almberg said some laws regarding firearms are “out of step with common sense” and that the council should give state and federal officials time to adjust gun laws.

Not everyone at the meeting was critical of the council. Resident Shane Hoffmire said he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of someone carrying an assault rifle around a park full of kids, which is allowed under state and federal law. He urged the city leaders to work with state lawmakers to change the law.

Later in the meeting, Hoffmire appeared visibly shaken as he addressed the council over another matter. He said he had prepared comments, but couldn’t remember what he wanted to say after being scared by the two men with guns. He said a couple of other audience members left because they were also nervous to be around guns.

But in the end, the council members adjourned the meeting without any further discussion about gun control.


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