The city of Seattle will pay $38,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the Second Amendment Foundation over failure to release public records relating to Mayor Mike McGinn’s January gun buyback.
The settlement was signed today by Carl Marquardt, legal counsel to mayor Mike McGinn, and includes an apology for the mayor’s office’s failure to release records about the controversial buyback program that netted about 700 guns but also provoked criticism from public health and gun-rights advocates that it wouldn’t reduce gun violence.
“The city of Seattle acknowledges that it had a duty under the Washington Public Records Act to provide all documents in response to the Second Amendment Foundation’s public disclosure request in a timely manner, and that it did not do so … While the initial failure to produce records in this case was unintentional, the city acknowledges that it did not meet the requirements of the Public Records Act, and for that we sincerely apologize.”
The statement goes on to say that the city is working to improve its processes for locating documents and responding to public-records requests. The Seattle Police Department earlier this year paid $20,000 to The Seattle Times to settle a claim that it had not released public records as required by state law.
In February, the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, requested all communications and related documents about the gun buyback and in response received from the city more than 1,500 emails between five McGinn staffers. But in June, a reporter for Seattlepi.com wrote that his own public-records request showed that the state’s most prominent gun control group, Washington CeaseFire, was not notified about the gun buyback before it was announced.
Ralph Fascitelli, president of Washington CeaseFire, emailed the mayor when he learned of the plans and told him that buybacks often backfire and that the overwhelming research shows that they are a waste of resources, according to the Seattlepi.com report.
Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said the emails detailed in the news story were not previously disclosed to the organization. In filing the lawsuit, he accused McGinn’s staff of “playing games” with the government’s legal requirement to be transparent and accountable.