Camas rejects sanctuary idea

Patriot Prayer members plead case, but mayor says laws must be enforced

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On Monday, March 18, about 20 to 25 Patriot Prayer members attended the City of Camas council meeting. About 15 of those people spoke during the meeting’s public comment period. The council members listened to what they had to say, then moved on with their agenda.

A day later, Camas mayor Shannon Turk said that her city will follow the lead of the City of Washougal, which earlier this month rejected a request for the city council to form a ‘Second Amendment sanctuary city’ and refuse to enforce the gun-safety measures passed by Washington and Clark County voters last November through Initiative 1639.

“We’re not going to take any action on this,” Turk said. “Our city attorney affirmed the findings of the Washougal city attorney. We’re not fulfilling our oath if we don’t enforce the laws in our city.”

In a memo sent to Washougal city manager David Scott and Washougal city council members, Washougal attorney Ken Woodrich said going ahead with the sanctuary city request from citizens who rallied at a Washougal gun shop with members of the right-wing Patriot Prayer and Three Percenters groups the day before approaching the city council on Feb. 25 would put the city leaders’ positions within Washougal’s government at risk.

“Failing to enforce the statute would violate the oath of office sworn to by law enforcement officers, elected officials and the city manager,” Woodrich said in his memo to Scott and council members. “Unless and until the opponents obtain a judicial stay or reversal of I-1639 prior to its full effective date on July 1, our city officials and police must enforce its provisions or violate their oaths of office, thus risking their positions.

” … While opponents of I-1639 argue the law is unconstitutional and unenforceable, the statute is presumptively constitutional unless and until proven otherwise ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.'”

Turk said that all of the speakers at Monday’s meeting were “very civil, kept to their time, said their peace and thanked us.”

“There was nothing controversial, nothing harmful,” she said. “They were asking us to make Camas a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary City,’ or at least look into the red flag laws. They all said similar things, but there were many different viewpoints on the same topic. They were urging the council to protect citizen rights. Our general rule is the council members don’t engage the speaker during the comment period. Council can’t make any decisions at that time. They’re to hear what the citizens are saying and follow up later. That’s not the time for the council to ask questions or make decisions – just to listen. That’s what they did in that situation.”

Turk said that she heard that some of the meeting attendees were carrying guns, but she emphasized that she didn’t see any guns at the meeting herself.

“My eyesight isn’t that great, but I wasn’t looking for them,” she said. “One of the interesting things to me is that of the people that commented, only a couple were from Camas, and Camas passed the (I-1639) ballot measure by 62 percent. Most of the people were from Washougal, Battle Ground or other unincorporated areas outside the county.”

Turk said that she hasn’t heard any talk of banning firearms from city council meetings.

“There wasn’t any discussion of that at the meeting,” she said. “I don’t believe there’s been any discussion of that yet. I believe I would’ve heard if somebody had brought that up.”