A public health summit convened Tuesday by the King County, Washington Board of Health that focuses on firearms is actually about “demonizing guns and gun owners,” a leading Second Amendment advocate asserted to a local NBC affiliate as the first of two evening sessions got underway.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told KING, “They are trying to make gun ownership a communicable disease, and it is really kind of stupid… This isn’t about public health, it’s about politics.”
Interestingly, at the Wednesday evening session, there is a panel discussion about “Next Steps with the Community” that includes representatives from the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Moms Demand Action – Washington, Mothers for Police Accountability and March for Our Lives Washington.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the YWCA Greenbridge Learning Center in White Center, 9720 – 8th Ave. SW, just south of Seattle.
There are no panels on the agenda representing anyone from the firearms community.
Tuesday evening’s program included “Testimony from individuals and communities affected by gun violence.” However, there was no panel or time period during which testimony was specifically sought from any firearms safety experts such as range operators or certified instructors.
King County Councilman Joe McDermott insisted, however, that the “summit” was called because “We have a public health crisis in our community when over 35,000 Americans die by firearm in a year.”
Gun shops and gun ranges in the county are required to post signs warning of alleged increased risks of suicide, accidents and domestic violence fatalities when there are guns in the home.
The KING report quoted gun retailer Wade Gaughran in Bellevue, a city just east of Seattle. He disagrees with the requirement and the message.
“You are skewing it basically to tell people if you own a gun you are more likely to be shot with that gun, you are more likely to be injured with that gun, and that is just not the case,” Gaughran insisted.
McDermott told the Seattle Times that he had no legislative goals in mind. But gun rights activists remember when McDermott launched his campaign for Congress two years ago, he was quoted by the West Seattle Blog stating, “For too long, politicians in Washington DC have kowtowed to the National Rifle Association. It is past time that we pass tough background checks, ban military style assault weapons plaguing our communities and once and for all hold gun manufacturers liable for the over thirty thousand deaths they cause in our country every year.”
During the first meeting Tuesday evening, according to KING, the aunt of a California homicide victim offered emotional testimony about the incident. Veronika Weiss was one of six people killed by Isla Vista spree killer Elliot Rodger in 2014. However, three of those people were fatally stabbed before Rodger got in his car and began shooting at people and trying to run them down.
Rodger left a “manifesto” in which he revealed frustration at his own inability to have relationships with women. However, he bought three handguns in California, all at retail, after passing separate background checks and waiting periods.
McDermott acknowledged to the Times that over 70 percent of firearm-related deaths in King County are suicides. The Wednesday evening session will apparently focus on suicide.
But there is already an energetic suicide prevention effort in the county, and the entire state, championed by Gottlieb in cooperation with the Forefront project at the University of Washington.
Reaction to the summit from gun owners at the Seattle Times website has been negative.