When the Washington State Medical Association House of Delegates gathers this weekend in Spokane, there are several proposed resolutions listed on the agenda dealing with firearms policies, an area that Second Amendment activists say should be no business of physicians.
Ranging from supporting so-called “weapons-free zones” to backing various provisions included in Initiative 1639, the 30-page gun control measure that is opposed by rank-and-file law enforcement, the eight firearms proposals might raise some eyebrows:
• Preventing Gun Violence in Washington State
• Weapons-free Zones for Health Care Facilities
• Guns as a Public Health Issue
• Background Checks and Waiting Periods for Firearms Purchases
• Safe Storage of Firearms
• Raising Purchase Age for Semi-Automatic Rifles
• Firearm Risk Factor Screening
• Funding for Firearm Research
The weekend gathering will be at the Davenport Hotel.
Several of these proposals could have been lifted right out of I-1639, which has stirred massive grassroots opposition from one end of the Evergreen State to the other. The initiative seeks to raise the minimum age for purchase and possession of so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles” to 21. It also mandates so-called “safe storage,” waiting periods, so-called “enhanced background checks” and a 10-day waiting period on the purchase of a semi-auto rifle.
But four major state law enforcement organizations—the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association (WSPTA), Washington State Sheriff’s Association (WSSA), Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs (WACOPS) and Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association (WSLEFIA)—oppose the initiative.
This raises an interesting question: Whose opinion should count more on gun issues, those who carry stethoscopes on the job or those who carry guns?
At the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference in Chicago, one of the panels featured members of a group called Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. This group, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation, contends that “Medical associations have been insinuating an anti-gun political agenda into the patient-doctor relationship for decades.”
On Wednesday, Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, observed “We cannot underestimate the importance of having all of these law enforcement groups lining up with the Constitution, and the citizens they serve and protect.”
He called I-1639 “30-pages of extremism disguised as ‘gun safety.’”
“It won’t make schools or communities safer,” he asserted, “but it will treat more than a million Evergreen State gun owners like criminals.”
He also chided the press for “steadfastly” ignoring law enforcement’s opposition.
“That opposition doesn’t fit with the media’s anti-gun agenda,” Gottlieb contended. “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.”
By no small coincidence, this is opening weekend of the general hunting season in Washington State. Spokane will likely witness a parade of trucks and SUVs heading north along Highway 395 toward the mountains around Chewelah, Colville and Kettle Falls. This procession of hunters will include a fair number of youngsters—boys and girls—who might be hunting small game or even deer with semiautomatic rifles of some sort; the kinds of guns that will all become “semiautomatic assault rifles” if I-1639 passes.