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Seattle Bans Guns at Park & Rec Facilities

"When children and families visit a Seattle parks and recreation pool, playground, community center or other facility, they are entitled to a reasonable expectation of safety."--Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels (left)

A ban on guns, specifically to protect children, went into effect Oct. 14, 2009 for “certain Seattle park facilities.” The facilities include:

  • 213 ballfields
  • 139 playgrounds and play areas
  • 82 outdoor tennis and basketball court
  • 30 wading pools and water play areas
Oxford Garden
Rain Bird
Structure Studios RH Peterson, Inc.
Fire Science Inc. OneSource Aquatics
Sport Turff John Deere
Senna Tree Hortica
  • 26 community centers
  • 10 pools
  • 9 swimming beaches
  • 6 late-night rec sites
  • 5 golf courses
  • 3 teen-life centers
  • 2 skate parks
  • Tennis center
  • performing arts center
  • Environmental learning centers

As with all laws, the ban has its critics; some questioned its "legality."

The ban includes those with permits to carry concealed weapons.

The city’s position, said Mayor Nickels, is that a municipal-property owner by the city can impose a ban on firearms as a condition of entry to a park and rec facility, particularly those where children and young people are likely to be.

The office of the Washington State Attorney General has a different position. In a 2008 opinion, the office noted state law pre-empts local authority to adopt firearms regulations.

The parks and recreation facilities where the ban is in effect will have signs posted, according to the mayor's office. The signs will first go up at community centers, then pools, popular play areas and ballfields. The mayor’s office expects all the signs up by Dec. 1.

A news release from the mayor's office stated that if a person enters one of the designated park and rec facilities with a firearm, that person will be asked to leave by parks employees or by a police officer. While it seems unlikely an officer would be on hand, if said gun toting person doesn't leave, the person could be cited or arrested for criminal trespass.

Four gun-rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, are suing the city of Seattle and Mayor Greg Nickels over the new gun ban.



Security on the Playground

SonicScreen (Miracle Recreation Equipment Co.) is a dual sound system technology for the playground. One program sound is an irritating high khz frequency that only youths can hear. The second program noise, a lower khz frequency that most everyone can hear, is meant to keep people out of the playground area at night. Apple has a free app called Sound Grenade that replicates these tones. You can also hear these pitches and discover your khz range at

In this playground column we've spoken of various incidents of vandalism, from defacing and scratching equipment to burning down playgrounds. Just a quick search online for "playground vandalism" reveals how pervasive these insidious attacks are:

Three fires were started with an accelerant on a playground in Los Gatos, Calif. After the second incident, video cameras were installed and four juveniles, what we used to simply call JDs, were caught in the act on camera. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandals.

A Space Net Climber in Friendship Park, Des Plaines, Ill. was destroyed and will cost about $12,500 to replace. The playground equipment was installed as part of a redesign and rededication of the area in 2007.

In Shelby, N.C. vandalism, parental concerns about safety and thousands of dollars spent to repair playground equipment have prompted the decision to remove the playground equipment in the Housing Authority area.

Two youths in Bonita Spring, Fla. trashed a school, causing $100,000 in damages.

A slide and jungle gym equipment at a Lake Wylie, S.C. playground were set afire over the weekend. The fire caused around $1,500 in damages.

The playground at Sean Browne Court in Enniscorthy, Ireland was attacked with hacksaws and burnt by intruders. If the vandalism continues, the playground will be shut down.

You get the idea. Vandalism of playgrounds is rampant.


Video cameras, of course, are one way to go to protect playgrounds. We note other options presented at the National Recreation Park Association (NRPA) annual conference, Oct. 13-16 in Salt Lake City.

"Security on playgrounds has not been appropriately addressed by playground equipment manufacturers," says Mike Sutton, director of sales at Miracle Recreation Equipment Co. Sutton is also a former law enforcement officer.

At NRPA, Miracle launched its new MiracleTech product line. This new security product line, patent pending, features:

ParkWatch--infrared security camera to wirelessly record (digitally) events.

Sitebrite--low-voltage lighting.

SonicScreen--sound technology designed to deter vandalism after hours. The system can be mounted on a new or existing playground structures. The system can also be post mounted as a retrofit to any recreation facility experiencing vandalism.

Miracle, based in Monett, Missouri, has 84 years of experience in manufacturing commercial outdoor playgrounds and recreational equipment. The company has 400 employees, over 100 domestic sales consultants, and 40 international distributors.

Note: On Oct. 21, 2009 Miracle announced it has become a corporate sponsor of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), pledging to donate more than $250,000 to NCMEC over the next three years, and to help cover lodging costs necessary to reunite family members upon the recovery of missing children.

For more information on playground security visit

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October 15, 2019, 5:20 am PDT

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