FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Cates
Chairman, Spokane County Republican Party
Spokane PFD continues to disarm off-duty police officers and CPL holders
Event-goers potentially vulnerable; Spokane County Republican Party issues resolution condemning policy
Spokane, WA, March 16, 2017 – Another big concert at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena serves as a reminder that off-duty police officers – and all concealed pistol license holders – are still prohibited by the Public Facilities District from carrying a firearm.
Arena officials have told all fans to “leave your weapons at home” for the Journey concert on Thursday night, March 16.
“What’s disturbing to me and fellow CPL holders is that the security personnel employed by the Spokane Arena are not armed,” said Spokane GOP Chair Stephanie Cates. “Although the Arena hires Spokane Police officers for some events including tonight’s concert, we believe the PFD policy leaves event-goers potentially vulnerable. The Spokane County Republican Party opposes any restrictions of the rights of law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm for self-defense.”
On February 11, a media uproar resulted when Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich was asked to disarm before entering the Arena for a hockey game. Two days later, Kevin Twohig of the Spokane Public Facilities District apologized to the Sheriff, announcing in a media interview that “We are actually planning to issue off duty officers an ID card that allows them to come in” while carrying their weapon. “It’s just taken us awhile to go through that process.”
Over one month later, there is still no ID card and no policy by which off-duty police officers can carry a weapon into the Spokane Arena. The minutes of the PFD Board meetings indicate that Board members have been discussing a change to the current policy since fall of 2016.
Even if the PFD manages to put such a policy in place, concealed pistol license holders like John Pardee are still negatively affected. John is a retired police officer with over 30 years of patrol duty under his belt. A disabled veteran with several health issues, Pardee carries a firearm for self-defense.
“Ever since the facilities board decided to buy metal detectors and block legal carry in publicly-owned entertainment facilities, I have been trying to show the powers in charge that they were in violation of the law,” explains Pardee. “I have heard every excuse under the sun but none have shown any good reason to violate the law.”
Washington State Law (RCW 9.41.300) prohibits municipalities from enacting laws and ordinances that restrict the possession of firearms by persons with a concealed pistol license or exempt from the licensing requirement in any stadium or convention center operated by the municipality.
Out of frustration with the Spokane PFD policy put into effect last fall, Pardee contacted a District Leader on the Spokane GOP Board, Vitaliy Maksimov, who discussed the matter with 4th District Representative Matt Shea. Along with Representative Bob McCaslin and other co-sponsors, Shea drafted and sponsored House Bill 1015 – which would allow those citizens with a concealed weapons permit to bring handguns into sports facilities that are controlled by public facilities districts in the state.
The bill reads in part: “A public facilities district may not prohibit persons with a valid concealed pistol license from carrying a concealed pistol in any facility or on any grounds of a facility that is owned, operated, managed, administered, controlled, or maintained by the public facilities district, or leased or rented to a private or public entity by the public facilities district.”
The Spokane GOP Board has issued a resolution in support of HB 1015. As of now, the bill has not made it out of the judicial committee in the current legislative session, but Rep. Shea explains that the bill is far from dead.
“We can try to amend it on another bill,” explains Shea, “and we will continue the conversation – especially when part of our delegation meets with the PFD after session.”