Seattle businesses announce they are 'gun free zones'

SEATTLE -- Stickers aimed at stopping gun crimes are finding a welcome home in Seattle, with at least 100 businesses now declaring themselves off limits to firearms.

Current law prohibits individual cities from setting their own gun laws, but a new plan endorsed by Mayor Mike McGinn goes around those rules, if only symbolically.

With a clear message planted on the podium, the owner of Seattle's Big Picture Theater spoke Thursday about why Seattle businesses need to place limits on firearms.

"I don't believe it is necessary ever to bring a gun into a movie theater. It's ridiculous," said Mark Stern.

Stern is part of a growing movement where merchants voluntarily ban customers from bringing guns into their establishments. They advertise the stance with a "Gun Free Zone" decal.

"By having that decal on the front door, people can see that they are engaged in the issue on an ever present basis," said Ralph Fascitelli.

The program is based on the same laws that allow businesses to require shirts and shoes to receive any service. At least 100 local merchants are now calling their businesses gun free zones.

McGinn helped introduce the idea over the summer, saying state and federal lawmakers were doing too little to protect the public from gun violence.

"This is an opportunity for businesses, individuals, the community, to take action themselves," McGinn said. "They can say where they stand."

State Sen. Ed Murray, who is challenging McGinn this November to be the city's next mayor, said he doesn't oppose the effort but doubts its effectiveness.

"Anything that raises awareness is good, but again, an actual strategy that you can get behind that can actually limit guns, that's what we need the mayor to get," Murray said.

Murray supports an incremental approach to reform pushed by the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which seeks to close the gun show loophole and then chip away at other challenges.

Although Washington Ceasefire held a joint press conference with McGinn on Thursday, the organization says it is not endorsing either candidate.