Evergreen State anti-gunners moved quickly to demonize gun owners over two incidents, one in a Renton theater late last week and the other yesterday at the Lynnwood Library, that will likely become fodder for pushing a state House bill that would essentially nullify state preemption.
The Lynnwood incident involved a woman who strolled into the library Sunday toting a loaded shotgun. As the Seattle Times reported, nobody was injured and no shots were fired. The newspaper asserted in the headline that the woman was “troubled,” whatever that means.
Down in Renton, a man faces charges of third-degree assault because the handgun he was carrying discharged last Thursday inside the theater, wounding a woman seated in the row in front of him. The story behind the discharge seems to have changed, but that seems to be of less interest to some gun prohibitionists than their ability to use this incident to argue for gun bans. The suspect reportedly claimed he carried the gun because he was afraid of a mass shooting.
Put the incidents into perspective. There are more than a half-million active concealed pistol licenses in Washington. How many people carry legally concealed firearms into theaters and libraries without incident or anyone being any the wiser? There is no way to tell because there were no problems.
Last week in Las Vegas, from whence this column was reporting at the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, business was very good and industry professionals repeatedly mentioned the growing number of new gun owners around the country. The Detroit News reported Saturday that demand for gun safety classes in Michigan, for example, is “booming.” That seems to reflect a national trend following Paris and San Bernardino.
People get into car crashes all the time. Google the term “hit-and-run” and one will find cases from California, Texas, Washington and elsewhere involving injury or death, yet nobody is demanding tighter restrictions on all automobile drivers. Driving is a privilege while bearing arms is a constitutionally recognized and protected individual civil right.
House Bill 2460, one of four measures discussed during a hearing last Thursday of the state House Judiciary Committee, would allow local governments to once again regulate firearms in public places. Incidents like the ones in Renton and Lynnwood are invariably exploited by anti-gunners trying to portray every gun owner like the two individuals involved in those cases.
Tomorrow, there’s a public hearing on a suicide prevention measure that was developed with firearms community involvement. If passed HB 2793 would establish a Safe Homes Task Force with a suicide prevention and firearms subcommittee that requires representation from the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation and firearms industry – but not gun control groups – whose goal would be to help identify ways to prevent suicide, but not create restrictions on law-abiding gun owners.
At the SHOT Show Friday, this column chatted with a woman who lost a son last year to suicide. Told about the effort in Olympia, she quickly volunteered to help anyway she can, to prevent other such tragedies. This woman is an accomplished hunter and shooter and has been around the firearms industry for several years. Her son hanged himself.
Yesterday, KIRO reported on preparations for a demonstration in Olympia regarding suicide. The new legislation will work with firearms dealers, pharmacists, police and health care providers on suicide awareness. Gun dealers who are certified as a “safe homes partner” will qualify for tax incentives. Some gun rights activists are suspicious of the effort while others think it puts gun owners on the political high ground.
What happened in Renton and Lynnwood can be addressed with existing laws. Neither incident should be an excuse to turn back the clock to a time of checkerboard gun regulations that were conflicting and confusing. That reasoning could apply to any state with a preemption statute modeled after Washington’s law.
As for the suicide prevention measure, this is a chance for gun rights advocates to use the rhetoric of anti-gunners against them. “If it saves just one life, it’s worth the effort.”
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