Woodland council takes stand on gun owners' rights

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

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WOODLAND — A Woodland City Council resolution aims to solidify the city's position on the Second Amendment.

Approved Monday night with a 5-2 vote, the resolution calls for the city not to enforce new state or federal gun control laws that conflict with U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The resolution is intended to lend support to the Second Amendment and gun owners.

Despite coming at a time when lawmakers -- mostly Democrats -- have begun pushing for tougher gun regulations, the city's resolution isn't intended to sway state or federal legislators, its top supporter at the city said.

Councilor Benjamin Fredricks said the U.S. Constitution was under "vicious attack" and called the right to bear arms an entitlement provided "by our creator," not the government.

"We can sit down and not take a stance on this," Fredricks said, "or we can stand up and take a leadership role."

Despite the resolution's strong wording, even its supporters say it represents little more than a symbolic gesture. The city does not plan to send the resolution to Congress or the state Legislature.

Mayor Grover Laseke, the city's former police chief, said he supported it but acknowledged the resolution holds little weight.

Councilor J.J. Burke said he backed the resolution because it sends the message that Woodland doesn't approve of efforts to further restrict gun ownership.

Still, Burke said he'd rather spend the council's time and resources addressing city issues.

The city passed the resolution as national talks about how to quell the apparent rise in gun violence remain fresh in the public consciousness.

Following a spate of gun-related shootings at the end of 2012 -- in Clackamas, Ore., Newtown, Conn., and Frankstown Township, Pa., -- President Obama began publicly calling for a renewed discussion of gun control.

Referencing the shootings, Councilor Marilee McCall, who voted against the resolution along with Councilor Al Swindell, called the city's efforts "an inappropriate use of time."

She also called the resolution misleading, filled with inaccuracies and statements of opinion.

A number of residents who spoke at the meeting were supportive of the resolution, however.

Woodland resident Darlene Johnson called the resolution a proper use of time as other cities across the country have taken steps to restrict gun ownership.

"It's just as appropriate for the city to support the Second Amendment," Johnson said. "When guns are taken away, a lot of times people are left pretty defenseless."