UPDATED, 3/22 at 1:55 p.m. Two days after a Portland-based “interfaith religious group” launched a ballot initiative campaign to ban so-called “assault weapons” in Oregon, a Seattle Times editorial is calling for the same effort in neighboring Washington, effectively turning the Pacific Northwest into a gun rights battleground.
The original Oregon proposal, Initiative Petition 42 and the replacement measure, Initiative Petition 43, contain language that alternately would require Oregon gun owners to register their guns, move them out of the state or surrender them. Anyone moving to the state after the initiative takes effect appear to have three options:
- Surrender the gun to a law enforcement agency for destruction;
- Transfer the firearm to a licensed firearms dealer for sale or transfer;
- Render the firearm permanently inoperable.
Even before the initiative was announced, the Oregon Firearms Federation released a statement that included this: “It is essential that you inform every gun owner, and every potential gun owner that this dangerous initiative is in the works. Make sure every person you know who believes in freedom is registered to vote and is paying attention. Voter turnout is essential. We cannot allow Multnomah County to, once again, rob us of our rights.”
The Washington-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, came out swinging.
“The language in this initiative absolutely puts the lie to any and all claims by the gun control crowd that ‘nobody wants to take your guns’,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “We’ve known the true intent of the anti-gun movement for decades, and we’ve been criticized as cranks and paranoids by condescending newspaper editorials and liberal pundits for being honest about it. The registration provision is deceptive, because history has demonstrated that registration will eventually allow the government to take those firearms or order their removal, like they did in New York City a few years ago.”
That was before the Seattle Times editorial appeared. The newspaper – many in the firearms community will say the Times editorial board is using the First Amendment to attack the Second – declared that, “The Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the Washington group that successfully sponsored previous gun initiatives, should put another on the ballot banning semi-automatic rifles and large capacity magazines.”
“Being told to register, get rid of your guns or face felony charges is not ‘gun safety’ or ‘gun reform,’ it’s blatant demagoguery in the guise of public safety.”—Alan Gottlieb, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Oregon anti-gunners will need 88,000 signatures to get their proposal on the November ballot. It would take far more signatures to get a ballot measure ready for November in Washington, but the deep pockets Alliance could easily fund an effort with paid signature gatherers.
In its editorial, the newspaper demonized the guns it wants banned as “semi-automatic tactical weapons” and “military-style assault rifle(s).” There are millions of semi-auto modern sporting rifles in private hands. If everybody who owns one or more of these guns was a public menace, that would be evident.
In his statement about the Oregon campaign, Gottlieb had some observations that could – and likely will – apply equally north of the Columbia River if the newspaper gets its wish.
“What’s sad is that many Oregon voters will believe the beguiling sales pitches sure to come from signature gatherers and then gun ban advocates as they promote this measure,” he said, adding, “Remember how prohibition worked so well against alcohol and illegal narcotics.”
But he also had this to say: “So now the true nature of the gun prohibition movement is out there for everyone to see…The gun control effort is no longer hiding its true intent, which is to ban guns, disarm law-abiding citizens and turn the Second Amendment into eraser dust.”
There is something else. In Austin, Texas, authorities are continuing to investigate the now-deceased alleged random bomber. Whatever else that individual did, he demonstrated that people intent on committing mayhem don’t need guns.
In the aftermath, nobody is blaming the “easy availability” of bomb-making materials, either. The finger of blame is pointed straight at 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, the person linked to the bombings. Fox News is reporting that he apparently had a list of future targets.
At age 23, if he had wanted to buy a semi-auto rifle, he would have been able to do that under the law passed recently in Florida and proposed elsewhere to raise the minimum age limit to 21 for buying rifles or shotguns. This is presuming the suspect had a clean prior record.
Penalizing law-abiding gun owners and treating their rights as government-regulated privileges for crimes they didn’t commit may not pass constitutional scrutiny. Bans on semi-autos have been adopted in six states, but there are 44 other states where they haven’t been banned, and the U.S. Supreme Court has not weighed in directly on whether such firearms – which would presumably be required for militia service if circumstances ever reached that point – are protected by the Second Amendment.