ANALYSIS — A post-legislative session editorial in the Vancouver Columbian—serving the growing southwest Washington region—illustrates what gun owners and grassroots activists see as indicative of a bias by First Amendment professionals against Second Amendment advocates.
The headline and first sentence of the editorial gives the perceived bias away by declaring “More measures needed to end gun violence” and repeating the phrase in the first line.
“Gun violence” is a term created by the gun prohibition lobby (often incorrectly identified by the establishment media as “gun safety” or “gun reform” groups). The term, say Second Amendment activists, demonizes guns while essentially relegating other types of violence involving other weapons as somehow less significant.
The argument has some merit, they contend, since a murder victim is no less dead if they are stabbed, bludgeoned or strangled than if they had been shot. And the gun didn’t commit the crime, the person using it did.
The editorial states, “In 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 864 firearms deaths in Washington. The rate of 10.9 deaths per 100,000 in population ranked as the 12th-lowest in the nation. By comparison, Mississippi had 28.6 gun deaths per 100,000 residents, the highest in the country, followed by Louisiana, Wyoming, Missouri and Alabama. While Washington’s rate of gun violence is preferable to that in many states, it remains too high.”
Nowhere in that paragraph is it mentioned that the overwhelming majority of “gun violence” deaths are suicides. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2020, “there were 279 homicide incidents, and 295 offenses reported in Washington by 232 law enforcement agencies that submitted National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data.”
It has long been a contention by gun rights activists that those favoring gun control—including newspaper editorialists—lump all firearms deaths together as “gun violence” incidents, creating an impression of rampant murder and mayhem.
The Columbian editorial applauded passage of a ban on so-called “high-capacity magazines,” along with earlier adoption of “background checks on all gun sales, increasing the minimum age for some gun purchases, and requirements regarding the safe storage of weapons.”
Yet, in the very next sentence, the editorial admits, “None of these measures will end gun violence,” while immediately insisting, “but they represent a sensible approach to dealing with what should be regarded as a public-health crisis.”
Admitting that a set of actions is not going to solve a “crisis” makes no sense at all in any other field of endeavor, be it medicine, automobile safety, illegal immigration or drug interdiction. Only where firearms are the focus does it make sense to people who dislike guns, and fear law-abiding people who own them, gun advocates contend.
The magazine ban just adopted by the Democrat-controlled legislature is a perfect example. As written, the legislation allows owners of original capacity magazines to keep them. The law, if signed as expected by anti-gun Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee, only prohibits—at least for the time being—future manufacture and sale of such ammunition magazines.
Long story short: It is essentially unenforceable and will prevent no violent crime. It is trophy legislation; a “feel-good” accomplishment that such incidents as the Gilroy, Calif. Garlic Festival shooting in 2019 demonstrate are all symbolism and no substance.
Gun prohibitionists, say Second Amendment activists with hard sarcasm, are “big on symbolism.” Apparently, so are editorial writers.
A video demonstration on magazine capacity and capability, done nearly ten years ago by an Indiana sheriff, pokes holes in any claim that limiting magazine capacity will somehow reduce the lethality of any mass shooting.
Next, gun rights advocates predict, will come an effort to ban “semiautomatic assault rifles,” which were deliberately defined by a 2018 citizen initiative to include every self-loading rifle ever manufactured anywhere in the world. The definition includes self-loading rimfire sporting rifles as well as big game hunting rifles.
What the establishment media evidently doesn’t understand, according to the gun rights community, is that the discussion isn’t about guns or magazines, but about rights. The right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms is protected by the federal constitution. The right of individual citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves or the state is enumerated in the Washington state constitution.
The media is zealously defensive of the First Amendment, and other amendments in the Bill of Rights, leaving gun rights advocates stymied over why the same fervor isn’t there for the Second Amendment.