Bellingham, Washington city council members are set to debate an emergency declaration that would empower the mayor (on paper, anyway) to not only force gun stores to close, but ban the transportation and mere possession of a firearm as well.

Jason Rantz of KTTH radio in Seattle was the first to report on the order, which is slated for discussion and a vote at Monday night’s meeting. That meeting, by the way, is open to the public, though the council says residents won’t be allowed to make any comments during the meeting itself. Instead, the council says the public can submit comments via email. Given the sweeping powers to abridge the constitution that the council is considering, I hope they’re flooded with emails from Bellingham residents.

5. An order requiring the discontinuance of the sale, distribution, or giving away of firearms and/or ammunition for firearms in any or all parts of the city;

7. An order requiring the closure of any or all business establishments where firearms and/or ammunition for firearms are sold or otherwise dispensed; provided, that with respect to those business establishments which are not primarily devoted to the sale of firearms and/or ammunition and in which such firearms and/or ammunition may be removed or made secure from possible seizure by the public, the portions thereof utilized for sale of items other than firearms and ammunition may, in the discretion of the mayor, be allowed to remain open;

9. An order prohibiting the carrying or possession of firearms or any instrument which is capable of producing bodily harm and which is carried or possessed with the intent to use the same to cause such harm; provided, that any such order shall not apply to peace officers or military personnel engaged in the performance of their official duties;

As Rantz notes, Washington State has a firearms preemption law that should make these proposed actions illegal, but the talk show host is concerned that council members will decide to err on the side of government power instead of individual rights.

A very clear principle inherent in the right to bear arms is to protect oneself. Self protection is something you might want to do during a crisis. People are panicked. And a coronavirus shelter-in-order declaration seems imminent.

You should have the right to protect yourself if people act out in ways that put you or your family in harm’s way. And a business that serves the purpose of allowing citizens to exert their constitutional rights, should be deemed an essential business.

Right now, under the governor’s declaration, pot shops remain open. But when it comes to guns shops we’d close them down?

I’ve rejected concern over the constitutionality of shelter-in-place directives. It’s a power the governor clearly has and he’d be right, at this point, to use it.

But this is transparent anti-gun nonsense. This is very clearly a way to exploit the coronavirus to attack gun rights and again demonize gun owners as somehow a demographic you need to worry about during a crisis.

Rantz will be joining me Tuesday on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to talk about the outcome of tonight’s meeting, but if you’re a Bellingham resident, please contact your city council member and the mayor’s office to voice your objection to this unconstitutional gun grab proposal.

Beyond the glaring constitutional concerns, there’s also a practical matter to consider. We’re already seeing sheriffs across the state take steps to reduce the number of people in jail right now in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Do council members really believe that the police in Bellingham should attempt to confiscate firearms or arrest individuals simply for possessing their legally owned guns when burglars and other criminals are being let loose? How would gun owners turn in their firearms during the state of emergency, and how could they be guaranteed to have their firearms returned to them after the emergency order was lifted?

Maybe they do, but I suspect if they go forward and approve this measure, there’ll be a lawsuit filed Tuesday morning. I also suspect if the mayor were to try to exercise the powers the city council is considering, there would be widespread noncompliance from both law enforcement and gun owners. Those tasked with maintaining order in Bellingham have much bigger issues to worry about right now than the residents who are exercising their right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.