A Seattle Times editorial is demanding a legislative ban on so-called “assault weapons.” It has ignited a furious debate. (Dave Workman)
A Friday editorial in the Seattle Times demanding a ban on so-called “assault weapons” in Washington State has ignited another reader debate over constitutional rights versus supposed public safety, and considering the situation in far off Virginia, the expanding “Second Amendment Sanctuary” movement and what appears to be overlooking of certain facts, is press credibility once again on trial?
Right out of the gate, the editorial runs into trouble from pretty savvy rights activists when it declares, “America’s plague of wanton public gun violence will not solve itself.”
According to the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2018—the most recent year for which data is available—homicides actually declined, with 10,265 involving firearms. By some estimates, there are 400 million guns in private ownership, so the number used in homicides amounts to a tiny fraction of a fraction.
Broken down further, rifles of any kind are used annually in 2-3 percent of all homicides.
In Washington State, where the Times wants “assault rifles” banned, in 2018 rifles of any kind were identified as used in only two of the state’s 232 slayings, FBI data says.
In 2017, a rifle was identified as the murder weapon in only one of the state’s 228 slayings.
Granted, rifles may have been involved in a few more murders in those years, as the FBI reports always note that some fatal shootings involved guns not specifically identified. However, more people are stabbed or bludgeoned to death in any given year than are murdered with rifles of any type, as confirmed by FBI data, not just in Washington state, but across the country. Millions of honest citizens own such rifles and haven’t harmed anyone, yet their firearms are being scapegoated and they are being penalized for crimes they didn’t commit, they contend.
For example, in 2018, the FBI report identifies 297 cases where people were killed with rifles. That same year, a whopping 1,515 were killed with “knives or cutting instruments.” Another 443 were bludgeoned to death, and 668 were beaten, stomped or strangled. Incidentally, there are no background checks on knives or cutting instruments, or any blunt instrument such as a hammer or baseball bat. We’re all born with hands and feet with which we can beat, stomp or strangle another person.
In the following paragraph of its editorial, the newspaper mistakenly suggests the Second Amendment is about the hunting tradition, which it is not and never has been. Referring to the proposed gun ban as a “common-sense reform,” the editorial condescendingly insists the ban “would do nothing to prohibit the enjoyment of hunting traditions handed down across generations of Washington families, nor would it be a foot in the door toward widespread confiscations.”
Second Amendment experts contend the right to keep and bear arms is an insurance policy against government tyranny, and a protection of the right of self-defense.
As for confiscation, just how else does one ban a firearm that is in common use and widespread ownership? Mandatory buybacks? That’s merely “compensated confiscation.” Are currently-owned guns grandfathered in, but subsequently prohibited from being passed on to heirs? That’s confiscation one generation removed.
The editorial also contends, “crucial gun reform has proved elusive despite perennial evidence the public wants it.” The term “gun reform” is just a sanitized way of saying “gun control” and everyone knows it.
Besides, since when are fundamental, constitutionally-enumerated rights subject to a public vote? It’s a question raised by at least some of the readers who had logged some 200 responses as of this writing.
Finally, the editorial argues, “Washington should restrict the most dangerous weapons before more lives are lost.” At least one reader explained how much more powerful a common hunting rifle cartridge is compared to the rounds fired in a so-called “assault rifle.”
The newspaper is alarmed that county sheriffs have announced they will not enforce provisions of gun control Initiative 1639, the measure now being challenged in federal court by the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation. That’s not an isolated concern for gun control advocates. Lawmen in several states are balking at enforcing new gun control laws they consider extremist and unconstitutional. It amounts to an insurrection against a cornerstone of the gun control agenda, and leaves gun prohibitionists essentially toothless.
It is important to note in Washington state, I-1639 invents a definition for a firearm that really doesn’t exist, the “semiautomatic assault rifle.” The broad definition applies to every self-loading rifle ever made, including .22-caliber rimfire rifles that—as one Times reader noted—were once gifted to youngsters as their first gun.
The “Second Amendment Sanctuary” movement has spread across many states. According to the Epoch Times, “Hundreds of local counties, cities, and towns across America are declaring themselves ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries’ or ‘constitutional counties’ as part of an ever-expanding movement over the past few years that has surprised even those who enacted the sanctuary resolutions in the first place.”
In Virginia, a new hotbed of gun control legislative activism, 87 of the state’s 95 counties have adopted sanctuary resolutions. Alaska, Idaho, Kansas and Wyoming are sanctuary states, and many counties in Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Illinois and Nevada have joined the movement.
Newspaper editorial boards have long sneered at concerned gun owners as paranoids for thinking that government would one day try to take their firearms. Like it or not, calling for a ban on the most popular rifle model in America today is a thinly-veiled push for confiscation, otherwise how does one ban such guns? It’s a proposal that was either not thought through, or is designed to fool gun owners who really aren’t that foolish.
Several days ago, a madman opened fire in a Texas church with a shotgun, which is not a “semiautomatic assault rifle” and is also commonly-owned. Fortunately, he was quickly stopped by an armed citizen. But this begs the question: Once “assault rifles” are banned, what’s next, “assault shotguns?”
And then what, commonly-owned hunting rifles that are suddenly ordained “sniper rifles” because they fire high power cartridges and utilize scope sights?
Last year, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told reporters, “There is no such thing as an assault weapon. There’s no such thing as an assault rifle.”
“What they did,” Sheriff Knezovich said, “is created the definition of an assault rifle, which includes every semi-automatic rifle there is.”
“Step two will be to ban all assault weapons,” he predicted. “When they do that, they will ban every semi-automatic rifle there is.”
Knezovich appears to have been spot-on.