Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels does not have the authority to ban guns on public property, says State Attorney General Rob McKenna.
McKenna’s opinion, which had been requested by state legislators, is nonbinding, so the city can proceed with its gun prohibition on public property. But historically, such opinions have been given great weight in court, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Washington state law “pre-empts a city’s authority to enact local laws that prohibit possession of firearms on city property or in city-owned facilities,” McKenna wrote with Deputy Solicitor General William Collins in the opinion issued Monday.
Nickels has issued an executive order directing city departments to come up with a plan to make city facilities gun free. He said the city would post signs about the ban on city property, and would charge people who violated it with trespassing.
“While we appreciate the Attorney General’s opinion, we have a moral responsibility to pursue common-sense gun laws,” Nickels said in a statement.