Washington State Second Amendment activists bundled up against bone-chilling cold to gather on the state capitol steps in Olympia Friday morning, where they cheered efforts to eliminate the decades-old state pistol database, and a promised attempt to repeal provisions of Initiative 594.
The latter measure is the 2014 citizen initiative that requires so-called “universal background checks” on all but a few narrowly-exempted firearms transfers. Critics have declared it a de facto gun registration scheme disguised as a crime-fighting tool.
But State Rep. Matt Shea (R-4th District) announced plans to introduce legislation that would nullify the measure. There is no evidence it has prevented any violent crime, or stopped a criminal from getting a gun. It was passed with a multi-million dollar campaign largely funded by wealthy Seattle-area elitists with support from anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
A couple of people in the crowd of about 100 activists, many of them visibly armed, carried signs demanding that Bloomberg stay out of local politics.
By any measure, Friday’s turnout far outnumbered anti-gunners who gathered in Olympia a few weeks ago to support a proposed ban on so-called “assault weapons.” The crowd included state lawmakers from both parties, plus retired law enforcement, and military veterans.
State Rep. Brian Blake (D-19th District), told the crowd that he had introduced legislation Thursday to prevent the Department of Licensing from keeping copies or records of applications to purchase pistols. He called those records what they have long been known to be, a state pistol registry. That proposal is House Bill 1181. It was sent to the House Judiciary Committee.
Blake also encouraged the crowd to support federal legislation that would remove sound suppressors from regulation under the 1934 National Firearms Act. They are legal to own, but it costs $200 and the procedure can take several weeks.
Suppressors are hearing protection devices, and there is now a bill before Congress called the Hearing Protection Act that would make them easier to get, and likely more affordable.
“You shouldn’t have to pay a $200 tax to protect your (hearing),” he said.
Still, one of the primary reasons people showed up, many carrying semiautomatic modern sporting rifles, was to protest the introduction earlier in the week of legislation to ban those guns in the state.
Rally organizer Rick Halle told Liberty Park Press that he believes the legislation, backed by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, will not advance. However, he predicted it will provide an argument for Seattle-based anti-gunners to launch another initiative campaign, later this year or more likely in 2018 to coincide with the mid-term elections.
This issue took on a bizarre twist on Thursday when admitted Mukilteo killer Allen Ivanov used his sentencing hearing to call for additional gun control laws. He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for last July’s attack at a party that left three former classmates, including his ex-girlfriend, dead. But instead of merely apologizing for his crime, Ivanov read from a prepared statement declaring, “I wish they never sold me a firearm. I wish I was never legally allowed to buy one. I hope there will be a continuous effort to change the gun laws so that others cannot make such a tragic mistake.”
The remark has already elicited anger from gun owners.
Following the rally, many activists went to visit with their district representatives and state senators.