You might have caught the viral YouTube video of the Oak Harbor City Councilman who walked out of a meeting because a citizen who brought a concealed weapon refused to give it up.
Because Army veteran Lucas Yonkman was carrying the gun legally, the video depicting Rick Almberg's controversial stance caught fire among social media, particularly among gun rights advocates. As of this column, it had been viewed almost 200,000 times.
How soon would we start seeing other residents carrying firearms at public meetings and events? If you answered any time later than Monday night, you're wrong.
The South Sound had its own brush with the concealed-weapon debate, and it happened here in Lakewood.
Here's the back story: I arrived at the Lakewood City Council meeting 30 minutes late Monday night because yours truly had to put out some journalistic fires he set earlier in the day. (Long story)
By the time I arrived, city leaders were interviewing candidates for the vacant position on their dais. The Council Chambers were about half full. I prefer sitting next to an electrical outlet, so I took the open seat in the front row, not really looking at the audience. I sure as heck didn't notice anybody in the crowd carrying a firearm.
The meeting concluded about 9 p.m., and I rushed back to the foyer to catch Police Chief Bret Farrar to, of all things, get his prediction for the Super Bowl. (Check back for that article later) As I'm about to chat with him, he gives me a, "Hold up. I need to talk to this guy."
I then turn around and notice, among the meeting-goers emerging from the Council Chambers, a man wearing what appeared to be a holster with at least one handgun, as well as two clips.
Farrar walked over to the man and the two started chatting out of my listening range. There was no yelling, no standoffs, nothing like that. The conversation lasted about a minute, then it was over.
The man left before I could speak to him, so I went back to conduct my interview with Farrar. Before we started, I asked him what his conversation with the armed meeting-goer was all about.
Basically, Farrar told the man that next time, he should alert any officers in the room (chief included) that he has a concealed weapon. The reason? Were gun violence to erupt inside the meeting space, officers would know that he's on their side.
Farrar doesn't come off as a guy who wants to infringe on gunowners' rights. He's a cop, so theoretically, he knows what is and isn't allowed better than almost anybody. But he brought up an interesting point.
If people attend public meetings carrying a concealed weapon, should they be required to let someone know they're packing? An officer perhaps? Is it anyone's business?
I can see Farrar's point. If anything, it's just a smart thing to do. Letting police know up front that you're carrying a firearm to protect yourself - and not to do something more sinister - might clear up confusion under more intense circumstances.
But I know not everyone will agree.
That's why I want to hear from you, Patch users. What do you think? Should people who attend public meetings or events carrying a firearm be required to let a police officer or government official know up front? Is it a good idea? Tell us in the comments below.