UPDATE: In a news conference at Oddfellows, Pike/Pine business owner Mike Meckling joined the head of Washington CeaseFire and Seattle’s mayor to be part of the announcement of the city’s new Gun Free Zone program.
“It’s good for safety, it’s good for customers, it’s good for employees’ state of mind,” Meckling said of the program.
The owner of Neumos and several other components of the neighborhood’s entertainment district said he hopes Capitol Hill’s embrace of the new program to raise awareness of individual business rights to prohibit firearms helps make the “more and more popular” neighborhood feel like a “a place to come and feel safe.”
Original report: The group working to change Washington’s gun laws at the state level responsible for anti-gun advertisements on Metro buses is launching its new business-focused firearm control campaign on Capitol Hill.
Representatives from Washington CeaseFire will join incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn at Oddfellows Cafe Monday morning to announce Seattle’s new Gun Free Zone program:
Washington CeaseFire Launches Seattle Gun Free Zone Program
Voluntary program will help businesses protect patrons from gun violence
SEATTLE-Today Washington CeaseFire, joined by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, announced the launch of a new program designed to help local businesses become “Gun Free Zones.” Businesses can opt into the program by visiting www.washingtonceasefire.org, signing the pledge to participate, and placing a “Gun Free Zone” decal in their window.
Dozens of businesses including Neumos, Oddfellows, Elliott Bay Books, Cupcake Royale and Café Racer have signed up to participate.
“We’re making a statement as a community” said Washington CeaseFire Board President Ralph Fascitelli. “We know this won’t stop someone determined to cause violence, but we hope that standing together and giving businesses a tool to say no to guns will change the conversation around gun violence. Maybe our message will even make it to Olympia – we need better tools now to stop gun violence in our community.”
Gun violence claims more than 31,000 lives every year in our country. In King County alone, more people die every year from gun violence than from motor vehicle collisions. This violence takes an enormous emotional and financial toll on victims and their families. Between 2007 and 2011, the estimated annual cost of firearms deaths and hospitalizations in King County was $177 million.
“We are here to support businesses that do not wish to have guns on their premises” said McGinn. “The police department regularly enforces trespass laws when a visitor to a business violates that business’s rules. We will continue to do so, and I thank these businesses for standing up for the safety of their customers.”
Under the new program, owners will be able to opt into a program that will give their businesses a legal and civic framework to ban guns from their restaurants, bars, clubs, salons and stores. Signs will be posted on the premise and existing trespass rights will be enforced for anybody who decides not to comply with the rules. You can read more about the existing SPD criminal trespassing program here.
A 19-year-old man died after being hit in what the shooter said was an accidental shooting in front of the Linda Derschang-owned cafe in July.
UPDATE: The program is being funded by Washington CeaseFire and will not received additional budget from the city.
It plugs into existing trespassing programs enforced by SPD that give business owners the right to prohibit specific behaviors on their premises — No shoes, no shirt, no service. Meanwhile, it is already illegal to carry a weapon in to a bar in Washington state. If a person decides to break the rules, the business can call police and have that person removed and, if necessary, arrested.
Monday morning, Ralph Fascitelli of Washington CeaseFire said the program was part of a “culture war” to “address the culture of gun violence.” He said his group would increasingly ask neighborhoods to get involved in this culture war.
The move comes as city officials look for local solutions to curb gun violence as efforts in Olympia and in Washington D.C. continue to be stymied.
P.S. — Maybe the R Place sign should be amended: