A Seattle Times editorial supporting a massive gun control initiative that contains at least one gross error about the controversial measure has sparked blistering reactions from readers, and perhaps offers some signals about why newspapers are experiencing declining readership.
Calling for passage of Initiative 1639, the 30-page gun control measure in Washington State that would strip young adults of their right to own certain firearms—while the authors expect those same young people to vote for their scheme—the newspaper admits that it will make purchasing semi-auto rifles “more difficult.” It also observes condescendingly, “Even if this new law could save just one life a year, it would be worth any inconvenience the proposal might cause for responsible gun owners.”
UPDATE: The Seattle Times has made a tepid correction to its editorial, explaining that “Hunting rifles that are not semiautomatic are not subject to these new rules” without acknowledging that the measure would, indeed, define every semi-auto rifle manufactured over the past century-plus as a “semiautomatic assault rifle.”
If the Seattle Times were to suggest that same thing as good reason to rescind the law that legalized recreational marijuana use, or to justify creating barriers to abortion, their largely left-of-center readers might react rather badly. As the saying goes, it all depends upon whose ox is getting gored. At what point does an “inconvenience” become an infringement or impairment on the exercise of a constitutionally delineated fundamental right?
The “save just one life” rationale, say gun owners, should equally apply to such proposals as ending so-called “gun-free zones” and supporting national concealed carry reciprocity. Arguing otherwise amounts to a hypocrisy recently challenged by the National Rifle Association in a scathing rebuttal to a Chicago Sun-Times gun control editorial. Recently, NRA joined forces with the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Washington Arms Collectors to battle the billionaire-backed gun control measure in Washington State.
More than one Seattle Times reader has taken that newspaper’s editorial board to task for falsely arguing that “Hunting rifles will not be subject to these new rules.” That is demonstrably false because the measure so broadly defines a “semiautomatic assault rifle” that every self-loader designed in the past hundred-plus years would be wrongly classified as an “assault weapon.” Here’s what the initiative says on Page 27:
“Semiautomatic assault rifle” means any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge.”
Captured by this language would be such popular hunting rifles as the Winchester Model 100, Browning BAR and Remington Model 7400 and 750 Woodmaster. That definition also covers such popular .22-caliber small game and target rifles as the Ruger 10/22, Marlin Model 60 and models from Browning, Winchester and other manufacturers.
By Wednesday morning, the editorial had garnered more than 175 comments, most of them negative. Grassroots pro-rights activists were clearly offended, and promising to vote against I-1639, which also contains other tenets that seem to treat gun owners like criminals. One group, SaveOurSecurity, has just released what may be their first advertisement on social media encouraging voters to reject I-1639.
Over the past several years, major newspapers including the Seattle Times have experienced circulation declines, resulting in lost advertising revenue, which brings about staff reductions. Liberty Park Press has heard from many gun owners over the years who will not support newspapers that do not support their basic fundamental rights, including the right to keep and bear arms. When newspaper editorial boards lose that perspective, potential readers lose interest.