Gun-toting Kent man takes aim at Seattle gun ban

Gun-toting Kent man takes aim at Seattle gun ban
Bob Warden displays his shouldered Glock pistol.
SEATTLE -- The Kent man who took the city of Seattle and former Mayor Greg Nickels to court over the city's gun ban has won.

King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer on Friday ruled in favor of Robert C. Warden, declaring the city of Seattle's gun ban at places children are likely to frequent is in direct violation of Washington state's firearm pre-emption law.

In issuing the ruling, Shaffer wrote, "Seattle's Department of Parks and Recreation's Rule/Policy Number P 060-8.14 ("Firearms Rule") violates Washington law and on that basis, is null and void."

The city has been ordered to remove all signage banning weapons from public areas within 30 days.

Last year Warden filed a complaint against Nickels and the city, alleging the city's gun ban defies his constitutional right to bear arms.

The complaint cited an executive order Nickels issued in June, directing all departments to review then-present rules "to determine the extent to which departments could prohibit firearms on city property."

In June, Nickels issued an executive order banning guns on city facilities where children are likely to frequent. The places on the ban list include parks, playgrounds, community and environmental learning centers, sports fields and courts, swimming beaches, pools, water play areas, skate parks and golf courses.

"The purported interested, to protect children from gun violence, has no substance and no objective facts behind it," Warden writes in his motion.

Warden mentions a study cited by the defendants in support of the gun ban. The study by the University of Pennsylvania found "people with a gun were 4.5 more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing guns," the motion said.

However, Warden argues "their sample of persons shot by a gun while carrying a gun was composed mostly of drug dealers, others with criminal records, cab drivers, and women being stalked ... Is anyone enlightened by the stunningly obvious claim that armed drug dealers are more likely to be shot by guns than your average person?"

Warden, 44, protested the city's new gun ban by walking into the Southwest Community Center in West Seattle while carrying his gun at high noon on a Saturday in October.

He had forewarned parks officials of his intent and, as a result, was asked to leave immediately after entering the center. Warden complied.

In requesting the injunction, Warden wrote, "If Plaintiff went to the Southwest Community Center with his pistol tomorrow, there is no reason to suspect that the rule would be enforced."

Warden added that such deprivation of constitutional rights is "inherently irreparable" since "damages cannot be compensable in money."

Warden's complaint defines the gun ban as a "substantial and comprehensive infringement of Second Amendment rights" -- an opinion the state Attorney General Rob McKenna shares, according to Warden. In a formal written opinion, McKenna said cities in Washington state do not have the power to regulate the possession of firearms on or in city property generally open to the public.

Warden, an attorney licensed to practice in Washington, said the incident gives him legal standing to file a lawsuit over the ban, which he believes is illegal.