Oak Harbor a microcosm of U.S. gun debate

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 5, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 5 at 8:32 PM

OAK HARBOR, Wash. -- Luke Yonkman considers himself a law abiding citizen. He also considers himself a patriot, which is why he willfully broke a city law Tuesday by carrying his gun in an Oak Harbor park.

“When you think about it, where do most people get mugged? In a park. If they were able to defend themselves it would be less likely for that to happen,” he said.

The disabled Afghanistan vet believes Oak Harbor's law banning guns in city parks is illegal because state law allows those with the proper permit to carry a firearm in parks.

“I am always armed when it's legally allowed because in order to mitigate crime and tragedy, you should always carry when you can,” he said.

That's exactly what he did at a city council meeting last month. The council was considering a repeal of the gun ban when Yonkman addressed the members and announced he was armed.

It was barely a month after the Sandy Hook school massacre, prompting councilman Rick Almberg to put forth a motion that would’ve made Yonkman leave his weapon outside the council chambers.  When the motion failed, Almberg walked out in protest.

“This is a national issue,” he said outside City Hall Tuesday. “This is a national tragedy.”

Almberg is also a veteran and a gun owner, but he believes a park let alone a city council chamber is no place for firearms. He is calling for a comprehensive federal firearms policy for America, and believes Sandy Hook changed the political climate both in Oak Harbor and across the country.

“It does not make sense in a democratic society when people have to bear weapons in an area where you're going to have controversy in your council chambers. Something needs to be done – now,” said Almberg.

The council is expected to vote on the repeal of the gun ban in city parks at its 6:00 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

The 2nd Amendment Foundation has threatened a law suit if the repeal doesn’t happen. 
 

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