Democrat lawmakers in Washington State are pushing to create a new bureaucracy in the state Department of Commerce whose job will be to research and track so-called “gun violence,” which gun rights activists believe is another manifestation of the gun prohibition crusade.
Senate Bill 6288 is opposed by the Washington 2020 Legislative Action Group, and grassroots activists. This new bureaucracy would also administer grants under a program created by the legislation to “improve public health and safety by supporting effective firearm violence reduction initiatives in communities that are disproportionately affected by firearm violence.”
According to the Seattle Times, the prime sponsor is State Sen. Manka Dhingra, a Redmond Democrat who works as a senior deputy prosecutor in King County. The newspaper says proponents want the legislation because it will “allow communities to decide how to best address their unique experience with gun violence.”
To some gun owners, however, this translates to a back door erosion of state preemption, the 35-year-old statute that prevents local communities from establishing their own gun regulations. Others believe it creates a state office that would simply promote gun control across Washington.
One can get a strong sense of opposition by reading reactions from readers of the newspaper and MyNorthwest.com. Comments so far are mostly negative.
For example, one MyNorthwest reader, Bill Lawrence, observed, “What are they going to do when they find out the problem is druggies and gang bangers? Why, of course. Deny that and blame the NRA. It’s obvious.”
The legislation notes in its first section, “From 2014 to 2018, over one thousand people in Washington 8 were murdered and well over half of those victims were murdered with a gun.” A check of the FBI Annual Uniform Crime Reports confirms that, but just barely. According to FBI data for those years, there were a total 1,036 homicides in the state over the course of those five years, including 634 slayings involving firearms.
Some individual U.S. cities might rival those numbers, such as Chicago, Baltimore or Washington, D.C. For example, Baltimore’s five-year body count was 1,215, a number that adds perspective to Washington’s statewide total.
Small wonder then why leading Republican lawmakers have been cool to the legislation. According to the Seattle Times, State Sen. Mike Padden from Spokane Valley thinks creating such an office is unnecessary. The newspaper says Padden is “skeptical as to whether the proposed office would act as an advocacy group for gun restrictions.”
Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler told the newspaper he doesn’t see any support from the Republican caucus.
But this appears to be the year Democrats are going for broke on guns, perhaps convinced they will never lose the majority or the governor’s office so long as voters in liberal Seattle and the Puget Sound Basin keep sending anti-gunners to Olympia.
However, for the first time in recent memory, the state’s gun owners have mobilized in the wake of the unsuccessful effort to repeal Initiative 1639. Activism is up, and coupled with what may be a growing taxpayer revolt over property taxes and license tab fees, Seattle could find itself in the minority. There are at least five challengers to Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee, whose vanity presidential campaign and opposition to $30 license tab fees may have finally worn out his welcome, and that of his party.
There might be some indications about the future following the March 10 presidential primary.