The man identified by various Washington State news agencies as the suspect in the Dec. 15 shooting of a Mount Vernon police officer has a lengthy criminal history dating back almost 20 years, according to published reports, which would prohibit him from possessing a firearm.
Yet the suspect, identified in various news reports as Ernesto Lee Rivas, 44, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail in connection with the shooting of the 61-year-old officer Thursday afternoon who was responding to a report of shots fired. Rivas is being held for investigation of attempted first-degree murder, the Seattle Times said. Prosecutors have until Tuesday afternoon to file charges, the newspaper noted.
According to the Seattle Times, Rivas narrowly avoided being sent to prison for life in a Yakima County case in which he agreed to plead guilty to three charges while ten other charges were dismissed. He had participated in the abduction of four people over the apparent theft of a necklace.
The reason he entered that plea, according to published reports, was to avoid being imprisoned for life under the state’s “Three Strikes” law, which was championed in the early 1990s, not by anti-gunners, but by gun owners and KVI’s John Carlson. Both the National Rifle Association and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) backed that initiative, while liberals opposed it; the same liberals who support restrictive gun control.
Five years ago, in 2011, Rivas also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm, the newspaper noted.
The Associated Press is reporting that the suspect’s record includes eight felonies, and that he was “subject to a domestic violence protection order last year after the mother of his child accused him of stalking her.” People under domestic violence protection orders cannot legally possess firearms under state or federal law.
If Rivas is the man who fired the shots, he is living proof that a background check initiative passed by Evergreen State voters more than two years ago after a $10 million-plus campaign has once again failed to keep a gun out of the wrong hands. In December 2015, on the one-year anniversary of the effective date of Initiative 594, the Bellevue-based CCRKBA noted several cases involving guns in the wrong hands that had not been prevented by passage of the measure.
At the time, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb called I-594 a “trophy, a flimsy sham that has allowed anti-gunners to claim they did something about violent crime when in fact they haven’t accomplished anything.”
Since then, there was the shooting in Mukilteo in which the accused gunman did pass a background check. There was the fatal shooting of four people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, in which the alleged shooter apparently took a .22-caliber rifle from his stepfather without permission.
Earlier this year, Island County prosecutors charged an Oak Harbor man for violating the background check requirement for allegedly providing the handgun used to kill a teen.
The initiative didn’t prevent that slaying, but only provides a vehicle under which the suspect can be prosecuted. It may be the only charge filed as a result of that law.
If the law doesn’t prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, and only inconveniences law-abiding citizens by costing them transfer fees while expanding the state handgun registry, what good is it? Did I-594 backers really want to prevent violent crime, or just build records of law-abiding gun owners?
Perhaps those questions are best asked of the gun prohibition lobbyists who will gather in Olympia Monday to push for another anti-gun law, this one a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” The “rally” is supposed to begin at 1:30 p.m. at the State Capitol.
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