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Unpacking Heat

Pete Springer/OPB

According to his lawyer, Kurk Kirby was well within his rights when he stood outside a Vancouver Albertson’s with his weapon holstered on his belt. The Vancouver City Attorney’s office disagrees. As the Columbian newspaper reported, it’s basing its decision partly on statements that witnesses gave to police saying that Kirby looked ready to draw his weapon, reminding at least one of Wyatt Earp.

As gun rights advocates and those who believe in open carry will tell you, it’s perfectly legal to carry a nonconcealed weapon in 43 states, including Washington, Oregon and California. But Washington state law RCW 9.41.270 says that it’s not lawful to display a firearm or other weapon

… in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.

Of course, businesses have the right to set there own policies with regard to open displays of weaponry. Starbucks recently decided to allow its patrons to carry weapons, saying it would follow whatever state law stipulates. A couple of other high profile chains have gone the other way  including a Starbucks’ competitor, Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

Some gun rights advocates did not find Garry Trudeau’s recent series of Doonesbury strips on the Starbucks’ decision particularly amusing. But others, like State Senator Ginny Burdick, who believe in what they consider to be reasonable gun restrictions, say the toons hit the target.

Do you own a handgun or other firearm? Do you have a concealed weapons permit? Do you choose to carry your weapon openly? When?

If you see someone carrying a weapon, what is your reaction? Would you rather know someone is carrying a weapon? Does it make a difference with regard to public safety that people are or are not openly carrying firearms?


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