State House bans openly carried guns in public gallery

first_imgOLYMPIA — The state House on Monday joined the Senate in prohibiting people from openly carrying firearms in the public viewing area located over the floor where lawmakers sit.The decision was made Monday morning after a meeting between leaders from both sides of the aisle in that chamber, and also applies to openly carried knives. The House gallery rules will now include a line prohibiting “open-carried weapons such as guns, firearms, and blades.”House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said that the clarification of the current rule banning demonstrations in the public galleries takes effect immediately, and that security staff have been notified and will hand out the list of restrictions to people who show up with openly carried weapons.“This is about how we operate within the House framework that allows us to get our work done,” Sullivan said. “This isn’t a question of Second Amendment rights. The fact that you can’t bring a sign into the gallery, although you have a First Amendment right of free speech … there are limitations. Within our rules, we believe we have the ability to restrict certain things that would distract from our ability to get work done.”Sullivan said the attorney general’s office was consulted over the weekend regarding constitutional issues surrounding the decision.“We believe that we’re on solid ground,” he said.Bob Calkins, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, said earlier constitutional concerns that the patrol had have been resolved and that the agency will abide by the House and Senate’s chamber rules.last_img read more