Battle Ground council issues statement on I-1639, public responds

The council said they will not vote on an ordinance to become a 2nd Amendment sanctuary city

BATTLE GROUND — At its meeting on Monday, the Battle Ground City Council issued a statement regarding calls for them to adopt an ordinance declaring the city a 2nd Amendment sanctuary.

Battle Ground City Council on Monday made a statement regarding calls for a 2nd amendment sanctuary city ordinance. Photo by Chris Brown
Battle Ground City Council on Monday made a statement regarding calls for a 2nd amendment sanctuary city ordinance. Photo by Chris Brown

“Over the course of the past couple months, the Battle Ground City Council has heard from many concerned citizens regarding Washington State Voter Initiate 1639,” said Mayor Mike Dalesandro, reading the statement during the meeting. “As City Councilmembers, we welcome communication from all points of view and it has been made clear our citizens have a plethora of different perspectives with regard to this specific issue. Due to the extensive outreach to all members of the City Council surrounding this particular topic, we are compelled to assure the citizens of Battle Ground that this body will continue to listen to all perspectives brought before us while upholding our oath of office to ‘support the Constitution and Law of the United States and the Constitution and Laws of the State of Washington.’

“It is with respect for the Constitution of this Country and the Constitution of this State that we recognize the vital importance of the separation of powers set forth in those documents; which requires the constitutionality of a state law to be determined through the judicial branch of the government, not this local legislative body. We continue to encourage all citizens to participate in their government and to bring forth their voice to be heard on issues that are of importance to them.”


Battle Ground Mayor Mike Dalesandro reads a statement on I-1639 at Monday’s council meeting. Photo by Chris Brown
Battle Ground Mayor Mike Dalesandro reads a statement on I-1639 at Monday’s council meeting. Photo by Chris Brown

The statement follows weeks of appearances by Joey Gibson and members of Patriot Prayer at council meetings, urging the city to adopt an ordinance declaring that they would refuse to enforce several parts of gun control measure I-1639 until after the courts had reached a final decision. While several council members stated support for the group’s request, others said they felt it should be left to the courts to decide the constitutionality of the measure, which was approved by 59 percent of voters in the state, including 54 percent in Clark County.

“Battle Ground did not vote yes for 1639,” noted Shauna Walters during a lengthy public comment period that seemed largely split regarding the council’s statement, “that is why we are asking you to reconsider your position.”

Patriot Prayer has held a series of rallies in Battle Ground, including a large gathering at Kiwanis Park, but Gibson largely has seemed to have moved his attention to Woodland’s city council in recent weeks, perhaps signaling his understanding that the ordinance was unlikely in Battle Ground. Gibson was not present at Monday’s meeting and, based on the level of applause after each speaker, there was a greater representation of people opposed to the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary City ordinance than there were in support of it.

Battle Ground resident Megan Wadleigh speaks at Monday’s Battle Ground City Council meeting. Photo by Chris Brown

“I am a supporter of the constitution. My participation here tonight speaks to that,” said Megan Wadleigh, whose group BG United unsuccessfully fought to have Patriot Prayer’s permit for the Kiwanis Park rally revoked. “I support the entirety of The Constitution. The Constitution makes it clear that it is the right of the courts, not the right of individual citizen groups or a city council, to say what is and what is not constitutional.”

Unlike previous meetings regarding I-1639, this one was largely respectful. That didn’t mean that some citizen comments didn’t get a little heated toward the council members.

Battle Ground Council Member Philip Johnson has drawn the most ire from supporters of a 2nd Amendment ordinance. Photo by Chris Brown

“You’re standing against The Constitution, and you’re betraying your country and city,” said Josh VanGelder. “When the orders come down and your officers and citizens are dying, remember that you had the chance to stop it. You’re literally bringing a war to the door of your constituents, and the blood will be on your hands.”

Battle Ground resident Karen Kennedy said the armed protestors reminded her of tactics used by the Taliban in Afghanistan, intimidating people and fomenting hate against different groups. “I don’t want to be going through my town feeling like I’m intimidated,” said Kennedy, “I don’t want to miss a city council meeting like I did the last one because I was scared. Because I heard that people who were speaking out were being intimidated on our social media sites.”

Initiative 1639 has already raised the legal age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21, including private sales, although it is still legal to own one if you’re over 18.

Starting July 1, the law will also require enhanced background checks and waiting periods for the purchase of a semiautomatic rifle, along with adding additional training requirements.

Battle Ground resident Josh VanGelder speaks during Monday’s Battle Ground City Council meeting. Photo by Chris Brown

The element of the law most criticized by 2nd Amendment groups is the potential criminal liability for failing to safely secure na firearm. Under the new law, if a weapon is used by either a minor or someone who can’t legally possess the firearm, the legal owner could face a gross misdemeanor or felony charge. The state has denied claims that law enforcement could potentially enter your home to determine if a weapon is being stored properly, due to constitutional prohibitions on illegal search and seizure.

Opponents say the law was poorly written, and that voters were given inaccurate and incomplete information about the new law in the voters’ pamphlet. The new law is currently facing a number of legal challenges in state courts.

Battle Ground City Council issued a statement Monday, saying they will not be issuing an ordinance against gun control measure I-1639.
Battle Ground resident Karen Kennedy speaks during Monday’s council meeting. Photo by Chris Brown
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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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