A pair of reports on gun control laws in Washington State discuss the failure to implement part of a sweeping gun law passed in 2018, and how Evergreen State gun laws compare to other states, yet avoid a critical part of the story, which might be best explained by a deadly crime in Houston, Texas.
The two reports were published by Crosscut, a longtime “independent, non-profit news site” popular among Puget Sound liberals. One focuses on the passage nearly four years ago of Initiative 1639, a measure Washington gun rights activists consider extremis in nature, with one tenet involving annual background checks of owners of handguns and semi-auto rifles. The other looks at how Washington’s laws stack up against gun control laws in other states, with grading by two different gun prohibition lobbying groups.
The I-1639 report recalls, “Washington voters passed a sweeping law to increase firearms regulations in a bid to reduce gun violence.” Has it worked? Apparently not, as data from the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report suggests.
The ranking report notes, “The Evergreen State takes the lead on gun control in several areas, including its mandated background checks and waiting periods, bans on openly carrying guns at protests and its extreme risk protection order law, which established a process for keeping guns away from people who are a danger to themselves or others.” Have these steps reduced violent crime? Again, the FBI data provides an answer.
In the years following passage of I-1639, the number of murders has gone up, not down, in Washington. FBI data is available for 2019 and 2020—data for 2021 will be released later this month—showing that in 2019, there were 194 murders including 135 committed with firearms. In 2020, the number of slayings jumped to 298, including 177 committed with firearms.
An unfolding Houston case offers some perspective politicians and gun control advocates either lack, or carefully avoid.
According to KTRK News, “Houston-area leaders are calling for gun reform in an effort to keep us safe as the homicide rate keeps climbing.” One case in particular involves a man identified as Walker J. Porretto, 19, who allegedly murdered an 18-year-old woman and injuring her older sister. There likely won’t be a trial because Porretto is dead by his own hand, according to a tweet by Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Update to recent shooting on Constitution Ln: Walker J. Porretto (5-2-03) was suspected of shooting both sisters. Yesterday, Porretto was located in Montgomery County where he sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was subsequently pronounced deceased. It appears that 1/2 https://t.co/HAUOd1XNVn pic.twitter.com/pRrkU3PnIZ
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) August 31, 2022
According to KPRC News, “Porretto was convicted of aggravated robbery and was supposed to serve six years and be released in 2025, but was released early.” While he should have been confined until 2025, Porretto was out and earlier this summer he was charged with “felony drug possession and unlawful carrying of a firearm.”
At the time he was arrested June 22, Porretto was wanted on a parole warrant, the report said.
“The parole warrant was issued on June 15 and removed on Aug. 1,” the story noted. “TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) said the parole warrant was removed after the parole board voted to continue supervision and reaffirm or modify existing special conditions on July 28.”
Porretto’s case illustrates a major problem with gun control laws. Criminals ignore them.
In Seattle, the King County Prosecutor’s Office has filed first-degree murder and assault charges against a man identified as Ira Demario Washington. He is also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, a handgun which turned out to be stolen. The suspect is 47 years old and has a criminal history dating back to 2001.
Whether in Texas, Washington or anywhere else local officials lament the rise in criminal violence, calling for additional gun control laws when clearly existing laws have not worked or are not being enforced appears to be a dodge, gun rights advocates repeatedly contend. Legislation that only penalizes and inconveniences law-abiding citizens, while criminals routinely ignore the law, accomplish nothing, critics say.