A Democrat precinct volunteer in Oak Harbor has acknowledged to Examiner that opponents of guns in city parks are trying to pack the city council meeting next Tuesday specifically to keep gun rights activists out.
Gun rights activists and gun control proponents are expected to square off over the right to bear arms under the state constitution and state preemption statute. The situation in Oak Harbor has gotten national attention because of this video, in which a city councilman left the last council meeting because a citizen in the audience was armed.
Pam Fick, a 20-year Oak Harbor resident and Navy veteran, who is also a gun owner and keeps it in her house, objects to the notion of guns being carried in parks. She told this column Tuesday via telephone, “We’re trying to fill the room. That’s the only intention we have to make a point that they don’t belong in there.”
Her name and phone number were posted online at IslandPolitics.org, which she called a local “GOP Inquirer.”
Fick also confirmed that activists had originally tried to get the council meeting moved to a local school “so they couldn’t bring guns in.” That might also have been designed to discourage attendance from firearms enthusiasts, and if that is the case, then their First Amendment rights are just as much under attack as are their Second Amendment rights.
Raised in Texas, Fick and her husband came to Oak Harbor from California and “fell in love with the place.” The political fight over gun rights, she said, has gotten ugly. She asserted that some members of the city council have been followed home and that she’s been on the receiving end of some nasty remarks.
On the other side of this argument are gun owners who want the Oak Harbor council to clean up an ordinance banning guns in parks, adopted back in the 1970s, to conform to the 30-year-old state preemption statute. The debate has heated up on gun forums including Open Carry, Northwest Firearms, Seattle Guns, Defensive Carry and Shooters Northwest.
The fracas started late last year after the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation advised the city that its parks ordinance was at odds with the law. The city council tabled a motion to change the ordinance in December, and earlier this month, the story erupted across the internet, thanks to the video.
This column has covered the Oak Harbor controversy revolving around the appearance recently by disabled veteran Lucas Yonkman, who admitted to being armed, and the reaction from anti-gun City Councilman Rick Almberg. Caught in the middle is Mayor Scott Dudley, whose popularity is growing among gun rights advocates because of his conduct and his remarks about the Second Amendment and personal protection.
Perhaps none of this would have happened without the video showing Yonkman being interrogated by Almberg, who then offered his ill-fated motion to bar firearms from council meetings, and then abruptly left the meeting when the motion failed. Evidently, Almberg never read Mark Twain, else he might have stumbled across this passage: “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
The quote has been attributed also to Abraham Lincoln, based on a passage in the Bible. Regardless who said what, the wisdom still applies today.
SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb is clearly waiting in the tall grass as this column reported, generously allowing the city an opportunity to do the right thing. The council merely needs to remove language from its ordinances that bans firearms carry in city parks, which runs afoul of the state preemption act.
But Fick is not sure that allowing guns in parks is the right thing.
“I don’t have an argument about what’s legal here in Washington,” she said. “I have an argument about what’s right here in Washington.”
She is concerned that at a council session, someone with a firearm might draw a gun during a heat-of-the-moment debate. She alluded to former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, who was targeted by an assassin two years ago in Tucson.
“Our elected officials aren’t always safe,” she said.
That is a polar opposite to Mayor Dudley’s remark on the video that he felt safer around an armed citizen.
Fick also said she doesn’t like the idea of armed parents at Little League games in parks.
“I’ve seen how parents react,” she observed.
In that there might be a word of caution to gun activists planning to attend next Tuesday’s meeting. Everyone should be on their best behavior, whether they are armed or not. Members from various firearms forums are apparently planning to attend, including some open carry activists.
It promises to be an interesting session.
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