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County commissioners rescind ordinance prohibiting guns in parks
PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County is now at parity with the rest of the state with its allowance of guns in county parks, although the county commissioners are unanimously opposed to the idea.
“If I was in a park with my grandchildren and I saw someone with a gun, I would call the police and get my grandchildren out of the way,” said North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer. “Guns have no place in public parks.”
Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown and South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido both spoke out against the idea of carrying guns in parks, but voted in favor because the county was in violation of state statute with its prohibition law, which was enacted in 1971.
“This is a little inconsistent,” Brown said. “We have laws that prohibit guns in or near elementary schools but allow them in parks.”
Bauer said he is inclined to leave the local law in place and face a legal challenge from the state to bring attention to the issue, but will not do so because such action would cost the county considerable court fees.
“With our budget situation, we can’t afford to spend tax dollars on something like this,” he said.
The commissioners’ action only deletes one phrase, “or to carry any firearm,” from the ordinance. Discharging a weapon is still illegal, and could result in arrest according to Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Scott Wilson.
“The only legal use of a firearm has to do with self defense or the defense of others,” Wilson said. “This could be protecting yourself against an assault or a rabid dog. Otherwise, we could charge anyone firing a gun with unlawful use of a firearm.
“If someone was out there shooting cans, they would get arrested,” he said.
The law allows that the “park director may authorize (firearms discharge) at designated times and places for their use.”