by: Essex Porter Updated:Seattle —
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn threw the weight of his office behind the push to create voluntary "Gun Free Zones" in Seattle businesses Monday.
"That environmental factor that there's a gun there means that incidents in the home or the public can become lethal," McGinn said at a news conference.
Led by the gun control group Washington Ceasefire, the initiative has signed up more than 30 businesses so far, including the 5 Point Café, Elliot Bay Books, Oddfellows restaurant, and Café Racer, which was the scene of a mass shooting last year.
"I think it's more dangerous to have guns. That's just the bottom line for me," said Devon Peck outside Oddfellows.
Washington law does not let governments ban guns in most places, but it does allow private property owners to keep guns off their property.
The program quickly drew criticism from one of the nation's leading gun rights groups, the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
"What this is really about is prohibition," said Allen Gottlieb, the group's chairman. "They want to prohibit your right to take a gun with you when you go to a restaurant or place of business."
Gottlieb doubts the Gun Free Zones will be safer.
“If a person is going to commit robbery, rape or murder, that sticker isn't going to do anything," he said.
Supporters agree the program won't stop determined shooters, but believe it can prevent some homicides.
“What this will prevent is a patron who has a gun, then gets into an argument and an argument turns into a funeral," said Ralph Fascitelli of Washington Ceasefire.
The owner of Café Racer said he is already getting email from gun owners promising never to visit his business again, but he is supporting the gun-free program.
Late Monday, Washington Ceasefire said 30 businesses had joined the program so far, with more expected.