February 10, 2010
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn – he’s the new defendant in the Second Amendment Foundation/National Rifle Association lawsuit against the city’s illegal park gun ban which will be argued before Judge Catherine Shaffer this Friday at 2 p.m. in King County Superior Court – is asking for public input as he develops selection criteria for a new police chief.
The department has been under the command of interim Chief John Diaz since anti-gun Chief Gil Kerlikowske was tapped by the Obama administration to be the nation’s “drug czar.” Kerlikowske pulled out of Seattle without recovering the 9mm Glock pistol stolen from his department car while it was parked on a downtown street Dec. 26, 2004. It was his personal gun, and now it’s out there, posing more of a public safety threat than any of the privately-owned firearms – including so-called “assault weapons” – that he lobbied in Olympia to ban.
The Seattle Police Chief Search Committee, a 26-member citizen panel, has been tasked with the job of narrowing the pool of potentials down to three finalists to recommend to the mayor in May, in the hopes of making a final selection by June.
According to the Queen Anne View, McGinn’s search committee is asking the public to answer these questions:
· What qualities are you looking for in a new Police Chief?
· What is the most important public safety issue in Seattle?
· What does the Seattle Police Department do well?
· What changes would you like to see?
Many in the gun rights community would offer these suggestions:
The new police chief should be pro-gun-rights, fully-versed on the individual right to keep and bear arms as defined in the Washington State constitution.
The new chief should understand that lawful concealed and open carry is protected by the state constitution and appeals court rulings, and that existing state statute nullifies the current ban on legally-carried firearms in Seattle parks and recreation facilities, imposed under former Mayor Greg Nickels, an anti-gun extremist.
Most gun rights activists think it would be nice to have a chief who is an endowment or benefactor member of the National Rifle Association, and some might think it would be better if the chief had quit the NRA, believing it to be “too soft on gun rights.”
The first of three public meetings on the selection of a new chief is this afternoon, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Northgate Community Center, 10510 – 5th Ave NE.
Two more meetings are slated during the same hours on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Franklin High School, and Friday, Feb. 26 at the New Holly Gathering Center.
According to the Seattle Times, two names have surfaced as top contenders for the job; Diaz, and Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.
Now would be a proper time to ask how they might handle a powder keg issue that has exploded in East Palo Alto, CA involving a controversial Facebook entry by a police detective on that city’s department that suggests open carry activists might be forced to the ground and shot if they made a "furtive gesture." One California activist identified as Adnan Shahab is furious, according to the Bay Area's KTVU.
My colleague, National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea, discusses this story in his morning column. We expect other Examiners to weigh in shortly.
I understand that many police work under conditions where wanting to go home at the end of their shift can be a real concern. I and my fellow gun owners would like to go home at the end of your shift too, fellas.—David Codrea
The controversy erupted on the CalGUNS forum, and over the course of 36 hours, emotions reached the boiling point as outraged gun owners read Facebook entries allegedly made by Detective Rod Tuason regarding some open carry incidents in East Palo Alto. California open carry advocates have been gathering at coffee shops – an activity that helped provoke the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to launch a boycott effort against Starbucks, which allows open and concealed carry in its shops nationwide – with unloaded, but exposed handguns. California concealed carry permits are hard to get, but open carry of unloaded firearms is legal in many cases.
Tuason’s Facebook entries, which have now apparently been removed but not before one CalGUNS member saved them as an image posted to their forum, joked to a colleague about confronting an armed citizen thusly: “Sounds like you had someone practicing their 2nd amendment rights last night. Should’ve pulled the AR out and prone them all out! And if one of them makes a furtive movement…2 weeks off!!!”
Tuason also allegedly wrote about an incident involving a Redwood City man who appeared armed at an East Palo Alto market.
“Haha, we had one guy last week try to do it,” Tuason exclaimed. “He got proned out and reminded where he was at and that turds will jack him for his gun in a heartbeat.”
Sounds like you had someone practicing their 2nd amendment rights last night! Should've pulled the AR out and prone them all out! And if one of them makes a furtive movement ... 2 weeks off!!!"
The controversy spread to the pages of the Contra Costa Times and other newspapers, which reported that the East Palo Alto Police Department’s professional standards division is “looking into the Facebook remarks to see if they violate any rules or policies.”
The CalGUNS debate spanned 61 pages before moderators locked the thread, but it is still available for viewing.
Here in Washington, loaded open carry is legal and police departments are getting used to seeing open carry activists in their neighborhoods. They don’t get hysterical, many don’t ask any questions other than “what kind of gun is that?” and departments have even issued training bulletins reminding officers about firearms civil rights. We’ve discussed the recent incident in Olympia involving Washington CeaseFire’s Ralph Fascitelli’s “learning experience” with open carry, courtesy of the very professional Washington State Patrol.
In no way are his personal comments reflective of any policies or procedures here at the department, nor does he speak for the police department.”—East Palo Alto Police Capt. Carl Estelle.
But the question remains for a potential new Seattle police chief: How would he or she handle the kind of outrage ignited by the apparent Facebook remarks? Yes, there are First Amendment issues here, as well as Second Amendment concerns. Tuason is free to share his opinions, no matter how offensive, and it could be argued that he was “just kidding.”
However, to gun rights advocates, the remarks suggest a cavalier, and perhaps dangerous hostility toward legally armed private citizens exercising their rights.
This Friday’s King County Superior Court hearing may determine where the city’s parks gun ban stands. McGinn’s public appeal may help determine where Seattle’s new top cop stands on gun rights.
More from Gun Rights Examiners
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