Now that the Tacoma News Tribune has joined the Seattle Times in editorially supporting gun control Initiative 1639, grassroots Second Amendment activists are doubling down on their efforts to defeat the measure, while wondering about balance versus bias by using the First Amendment to erode the Second.
Some people, particularly gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb, are openly wondering why the “establishment media” haven’t reported that the four largest law enforcement organizations in the state are opposed to I-1639. Earlier this week, Gottlieb asserted, “Washington State’s establishment media has steadfastly ignored the growing law enforcement opposition to I-1639. That opposition doesn’t fit with the media’s anti-gun agenda. The media doesn’t want voters to know where the men and women of law enforcement stand because it would doom this extreme measure. I-1639 is bad public policy that substitutes empty promises for real solutions to violent crime.”
He recalled four years ago that the press downplayed law enforcement opposition to Initiative 594, an earlier gun control measure backed by the same people now behind I-1639.
There was no mention of law enforcement’s opposition to I-1639 in the Tacoma editorial. There was, however, more grist for those who are convinced the press is biased against their rights.
Item: “Our governments already expect training and a level of proficiency before issuing a license to drive a car, operate a boat, cut hair, operate heavy machinery and handle food.” There is no constitutionally enumerated right to cut hair, drive cars, operate boats or heavy machinery, or even to handle food. There is, however, a specific right to keep and bear arms in both the federal and state constitutions.
Item: “Granted, not all ‘assault weapons’ are automatic military-grade weapons; some low-ammunition-capacity hunting rifles fall in the same category. Voters must ask themselves if sacrificing some convenience for increased public safety is worth the exchange.” Hunting rifles, and the .22-caliber semi-autos that “fall in the same category” are not “assault weapons” at all, and they absolutely should not “fall in the same category,” gun owners contend. This statement, in the eyes of gun owners, demonstrates a monumental ignorance about firearms, and a willingness to demonize all semi-autos because they’re “scary.” As for “sacrificing some convenience,” that is a condescendingly poor dismissal of gun owner concerns about piecemeal erosion of a fundamental right they hold dear.
Item: “We believe it is, and also contend that a 10-day waiting period for the delivery of a semiautomatic weapon, another provision of the measure, is not overly burdensome.” Really? Would it be overly burdensome for someone accused of a crime to wait ten days before speaking to an attorney? How about requiring a reporter to wait ten days before breaking a story, or for an editorial board to wait that long to express an opinion? Is it overly burdensome to require voter identification?
In the final analysis, this isn’t about guns, it’s about rights. And constitutionally delineated rights are all equal with one another. The right to keep and bear arms is not some second-class black sheep to the Bill of Rights while the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and other four amendments are all first-class rights, available immediately. The Constitution, say gun owners, doesn’t work that way.
The full-court press to energize volunteers comes this weekend at the Washington Arms Collectors gun show at the Puyallup fairgrounds. Staff and volunteers will man tables for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the National Rifle Association, which have joined forces with the WAC to fight the billionaire-backed, 30-page ballot measure just as voter pamphlets and mail-in ballots are showing up in mailboxes.
Gun owners also wonder why reporters haven’t been quick to challenge I-1639 advocates on some of their rhetoric. Early in the campaign, the gun prohibition lobby was righteously indignant and Chicken Little alarmist about the NRA having pumped $150,000 into the campaign to oppose their initiative. Nobody bothered to challenge this hypocrisy, considering that the Safe Schools/Safe Communities lobbying group had raised more than $4 million to push the measure.
Earlier this week, anti-gunners sent an email blast that asserted, “this year alone, the NRA has spent $2.7 million on its deadly agenda.” Where did that figure come from? According to the Public Disclosure Commission, NRA has provided $150,000 to fight the initiative out of the $220,718.99 raised by Washingtonians and the National Rifle Assn. for Freedom committee. Even if the $2.7 million figure is accurate, that’s not close to the $4,567,838.67 now reported by the Safe Schools Safe Communities committee for cash and in-kind contributions.
There is another matter, having to do with the Peninsula Daily News. It ran an advertisement purchased by a gun store in which the wording was altered, and for which it has apologized. The gun shop had inserted a message to “Vote NO On Initiative 1639.” When the advertisement appeared, the word “No” had been removed, thereby altering the message.
Liberty Park Press reached out to the newspaper to find out if a corrected advertisement would appear, but the publisher and editor did not immediately return calls.
Gun control proponents noted via a fund raising email to supporters, “If we fall short, we could lose our best chance to save lives in Washington and create a gun safety model for the entire nation.” That makes it appear Washington is a testing ground for what Gottlieb and others believe is an extremist gun control crusade that could spread across the map.