Shooting a firearm inside Kirkland city limits is now illegal in most situations after the City Council approved an ordinance on May 7.
The ordinance stemmed from public outreach conducted last summer after the Parkland shooting in Florida, which left 17 high school students and staff dead. Councilmember Toby Nixon drafted a list of about 20 items ways to improve gun safety in Kirkland that could be done locally. The ordinance prohibits people from shooting firearms within city limits unless it is at a licensed shooting range, or by law enforcement or people defending themselves.
“I am very pleased that we are at this place today where we can adopt this ordinance,” Nixon said.
The ordinance cites the state definition of firearm, meaning devices like airsoft or BB guns will not be affected. Councilmember Jon Pascal said when they were looking at drafting the ordinance they examined similar policies in other cities including neighboring cities and others in Eastern Washington such as Spokane Valley that have comparable legislation.
“This is actually a fairly common regulation found in other jurisdictions in the state,” Pascal said. “This tells me that this is a very sensible regulation.”
Councilmember Tom Neir said the ordinance was an important first step but that they’re limited in what they can do, being constrained by state law. Under the state’s preemption status, the state “fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulations” including registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition and transfers of guns.
Local governments can create regulations related specifically to unsafe discharges or possession in places like stadiums, schools or convention centers. Council in its ordinance, argued that since Kirkland has become built out in past decades into an urban city, shooting firearms anywhere within city limits is unsafe and would pose a risk to others.
“This is a good step forward and just one way where we try to reduce the likelihood of gun violence in our community,” Neir said.
Other ideas stemming from the community outreach include creating school resources officers, mental health awareness campaigns in the community and a ban on assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons.
Some ideas the city was considering were approved statewide as part of Initiative 1639 on last November’s ballot. The initiative raised the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21, mandated safe storage requirements and requires enhanced background checks and approval from local law enforcement before assault-style weapons can be sold.
It also requires law enforcement certify that owners of assault-style weapons are eligible to keep owning them annually and sets out training requirements for new purchases.
Democratic state legislators have sought to further increase gun measures in the state. A ban on sales for magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds was proposed but not approved in either the House or Senate.
A ban on guns made at home with untraceable parts, known as “ghost guns,” was passed and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on May 7. Another bill prohibits those being held for psychiatric treatment from owning a gun for six months.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated who drafted a list items to improve gun safety. The story has been updated to relfect this.