news-parkPhoto by Sue Misao

 

BY ANN McCREARY

Twisp has amended two gun-related ordinances to fend off legal threats from a gun rights organization.

The Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, threatened last September to bring a lawsuit to force the changes if the town did not take action on its own to amend the municipal ordinances. The Second Amendment Foundation said the town’s ordinances were more restrictive than state law allows.

The Town Council last week approved a change to the town’s zoning code to remove language that prohibited firearms on the premises of the Farmers Market. The revised zoning code now prohibits “alcohol and illegal substances” at the market, but makes no mention of firearms.

In January, the council amended another town ordinance that was also targeted by the gun rights group. That ordinance made it unlawful to carry a gun in the Twisp Park. It was amended to remove any reference to carrying a gun in the park.

Town officials decided to make the changes to Twisp laws after the town’s attorney concluded that because state law does not specify town parks and farmers markets as locations where guns can be banned, the town’s ordinances violated state law.

In considering amending the town’s laws, Twisp officials decided that a firearms ordinance adopted last year by the Town Council adequately addresses the issue of guns in the park or market. That ordinance makes it illegal to “willfully discharge, throw or launch any weapon, firearm or instrument, in any public place or in any place where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals or property will be jeopardized, within the Town of Twisp.”

In a letter from the Second Amendment Foundation last fall, Twisp officials were put on notice that failure to amend the ordinances “puts the Town of Twisp at risk for a lawsuit.” The Second Amendment Foundation reviews local ordinances to identify any that are more restrictive than state law, which takes precedence over local laws.

The foundation brings lawsuits nationwide as part of its mission to defend the right to bear arms.

In other action, the Town Council last week also approved a change to the development agreement for property at 223 Twisp Ave. W. to allow parking, laundry facilities and storage, and other commercial uses that support overnight accommodations at Twisp River Suites.