Monday night, I made the following remarks about gun rights during the meeting of the Sunnyside City Council. My thanks to the City Clerk for researching the text of Ordinance No. 15 (passed in 1902). In the future, I would like to make a visit to the city archives to see some of the other treasures our city’s founders bestowed to us. It is my great pleasure to serve the people, and promote freedom everywhere I can.
STATEMENT ON GUN RIGHTS, 1/28/13 SUNNYSIDE CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Recent discussion of gun rights has prompted a public response from some officials in our state. These responses include remarks from the governor, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, our legislators, and also our county sheriff.
Some are begging for more government control over citizens, and think they should be in charge of allowing them to possess firearms, and where (if ever), they should be allowed to carry them. Others advocate for greater freedom, pushing for increased rights of individuals.
Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin issued a statement last week in which he cited the U.S. and State of Washington Constitutions. He later clarified that he is opposed to the proposed ban on certain types of firearms that is being put forward by the President and his allies in Congress.
Elected officials take an oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions mentioned by our sheriff. Unfortunately, some municipal government officials in Washington do not always respect that.
For example, on January 15, 2013, at a meeting of the City Council in Oak Harbor, a failed attempt to trample on the 2nd amendment rights of citizens occured. Video of the incident is making the rounds on the Internet.
During that meeting, a Councilman asked a gun rights supporter if he was carrying a firearm in council chambers. He demanded an answer even after the city attorney said the citizen was not obligated to give one. The citizen did choose to answer, and confirmed he has a Concealed Pistol License, and was carrying a firearm.
In response, the councilman made an unconstitutional motion to strip the citizen of his firearm on the spot. The motion failed, causing the Mayor of Oak Harbor to apologize to the citizen for the behavior of some of his colleagues, and spoke to the oath of office that all electeds take. The councilman who made the motion left the meeting rather than stay in a room where citizens exercise their right to bear arms.
I would like to take just a moment to remind my colleagues, and members of the public, just what our oath of office supports, as it relates to gun rights.
The 2nd amendment of the US Constitution states:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
For those that question whether that applies to individual citizens; can you imagine George Washington leading an army if citizens did not possess firearms?
The other constitution that warrants our attention, is our own Washington State Constitution. Article I, Section 24 has the relevant language on the right to bear arms:
The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.
If one is still in doubt, our state constitution is much more explicit in its language that the right to bear arms is an individual right.
This is not a new debate among the people, nor is it the first time restrictions have been proposed by politicians.
Our city founders first regulated the rights of citizens to carry weapons within three months of the city’s founding. Ordinance No. 15 Prohibiting Carrying Concealed Weapons and Fixing Punishment Therefor was passed in 1902. This handwritten ordinance was signed by our first Mayor, James Henderson. One should take note that at the time, the city also did not allow gambling, alcohol, or dancing.
Times have changed since then, and I am not about to suggest we take away our citizen’s guns, anymore than I want to take away their dance halls or their beer! In over 110 years as a city, our citzens have repeatedly demonstrated at the ballot box that they prefer more freedom over less freedom.
In the present day, citizens of Sunnyside may obtain a Concealed Pistol License by submitting an application through our local police department. I encourage everyone to do this, even if they do not own a firearm.
By exercising their rights, citizens can send a message to politicians that they do not want more government restrictions on personal freedoms. When more citizens apply for a Concealed Pistol License, it demonstrates that the people are serious about maintaining their rights and personal safety, as outlined by both our federal and state constitutions.