Washington State gun rights activists will gather Friday morning at 9 a.m. on the Capitol steps in Olympia to oppose a slew of gun control bills that Democrats, who now hold the majority in both the state House and Senate, apparently think they have a chance to pass.
This was made possible by the election of Manka Dhingra last fall in the 45th District special election to fill the vacancy left by the death of Republican Sen. Andy Hill. That reversal was a reminder to lethargic gun owners that elections matter.
Friday’s event is being organized by veteran activist Rick Halle, and will feature remarks by several lawmakers, possibly including a handful of Democrats who don’t agree with their Seattle-area colleagues about firearms.
High on the agenda of gun prohibition lobbyists is House Bill 1134, sponsored by more than a dozen Democrats and requested by Democrat state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The companion legislation in the Senate is SB 5050. If passed, this legislation would ban the sale of so-called “assault weapons” and original capacity magazines.
As Liberty Park Press has previously reported, the incidence of homicides involving rifles of any kind, including semi-auto modern sporting rifles, in Washington State has traditionally been minimal. It’s the same situation across the country. They amount to a fraction of all slayings in the Evergreen State, according to data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
“The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”—RCW 9.41.290
A second bill that alarms gun owners is SB 6146, which would erode the state’s 35-year-old preemption statute that places sole authority for regulating firearms in the hands of the Legislature. Anti-gun municipal governments in Seattle and other large Puget Sound cities have been begging for such a change in policy so they could return to the days of checkerboard gun regulation, what gun owners recall as a “patchwork quilt” of confusing and often contradictory local ordinances that seemed designed more to entrap law abiding citizens than to stop the criminal misuse of guns.
“The legislature finds that gun violence is a public health crisis in Washington state. For over thirty years, local towns, cities, and counties have been blocked from taking action on their own to prevent gun violence because of the statewide preemption of local regulations relating to firearms. The legislature intends to provide local jurisdictions the ability to build upon statewide standards and adopt responsible approaches to firearms regulations to help address the epidemic of firearm violence in their communities by restoring inherent local authority to adopt firearms regulations under the police power to protect public health, safety, and welfare.”-Senate Bill 6146 introduction
The preemption statute was responsible for Seattle’s dismal failure to enact a city park gun ban several years ago. That effort was derailed by a lawsuit brought by the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Washington Arms Collectors, and five private citizens. Seattle’s liberal anti-gun Democrat leaders have been furious ever since.
Friday’s rally should fire up the troops who will return to Olympia on Monday – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – for a hearing on several gun control measures before the Senate Law and Justice Committee. That will begin at 10 a.m. in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the Cherberg Building.
Underscoring the importance of Friday’s turnout, on Wednesday morning, the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a billionaire-backed gun prohibition lobbying group, sent out an email blast that reads in part:
“The Washington legislature is in session, which means we have to get gun safety legislation passed NOW, or it won’t happen in 2018.
“We’re doing everything we can think of to push Dangerous Access Prevention and Enhanced Assault Weapon Background Checks forward, but we’re not quite there yet.
“We have our best chance in years to pass Dangerous Access Prevention, which incentivizes safe storage by creating criminal liability if a child or anyone prohibited from possessing a gun uses an improperly stored firearm to do harm. This will increase accountability and prevent guns from getting into the hands of people – especially children – who shouldn’t have them.
“Legislators are also considering Enhanced Assault Weapon Background Checks, which would raise the age of purchase for these military-designed weapons to 21 and require safety training and annual background check renewal. In Washington, it’s easier to buy an assault weapon than a handgun. That is a travesty, and this is our best chance to fix the problem.
“We don’t have any time to waste. The legislative session will be over before we know it, and the gun lobby is doing whatever it takes to prevent commonsense gun safety legislation from moving forward.
With their email, the group also asked for contributions. Gun owners, meanwhile, can support the Gun Owners Action League of Washington, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and/or the National Rifle Association.