A hearing on four gun control measures this afternoon before the Washington State House Judiciary Committee could draw a large crowd of opponents and they’ll be hoping state lawmakers follow the example of Virginia state senators who nixed gun control legislation in that state yesterday by scrapping the bills in Olympia.
This is happening as Day 3 of the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show unfolds. A lot of people who might attend today’s hearing in Olympia are here in Las Vegas for the huge trade show, including Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and several members of the Waguns forum group.
However, CCRKBA and the National Rifle Association will be represented at the hearing. Members of the Northwest Firearms forum are fired up, too, and many will likely attend.
The show is crowded, and if you ask anybody in the aisles about the brisk business being conducted here, it is in large part because of threats to gun rights as are being pushed in Virginia and Washington, and other places. Both CCRKBA’s Gottlieb and NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre were making the rounds yesterday, and lots of people were talking about Tuesday evening’s call to action by National Shooting Sports Foundation President Steve Sanetti.
Yesterday’s vote in Virginia, largely along party lines, “scrapped a raft of gun-control bills while advancing measures intended to expand gun rights,” the Washington Post reported. Today’s hearing in Olympia will address proposals on “safe storage” (HB 1747), “extreme risk protection orders” (HB 2461), destruction of forfeited firearms (HB 2372) and the so-called “Public Property and Parks Carry Ban” (HB 2460).
It is the latter bill that, say Washington rights activists, would essentially destroy the state preemption statute that has served the public well for more than 30 years. It has also been a model for preemption laws in other states, and it is despised by anti-gun municipal politicians who want to set their own gun control laws that are deliberately confusing and often contradictory.
State preemption did away with that checkerboard in 1983 and it’s the law that prevented Seattle from banning legally carried sidearms in city park facilities. Seattle anti-gunners are behind this. The hearing begins at 1:30 p.m. in House Hearing Room A in the John L. O’Brien building.
Gun control is being pushed hard this year by anti-gun Democrats. Virginia lawmakers rejected the measures in that state yesterday because, as the Washington Post noted, “members often voiced concerns about the constitutionality of the measures.”
Some ideas being pandered by politicians are hitting sour notes, even with traditionally anti-gun media. In today’s Los Angeles Times, writer George Skelton slams Hillary Clinton and the Los Angeles County supervisors for being wrong on gun control. At issue are Clinton’s claim that the gun industry gets “a pass” on liability — a falsehood that Skelton deftly explains — and a proposal by the supervisors to require gun owners to get insurance.
Today’s hearing in Olympia may not sway anyone. Lawmakers’ minds may already be made up regarding how they will vote on the bills to be discussed, but it may once again illustrate the chasm that exists between anti-gun and pro-rights Washington residents.
One thing that is evident in recent weeks and months is that more people are buying firearms. It’s not that the same people who already own guns are buying more, as gun prohibitionists have been falsely insisting. San Bernardino seems to have changed that, along with talk from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton about tougher gun control measures. Tell an American they may not be able to have something, they will get their hands on it.
A CNN report underscores what is happening. Quoting Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the news organization reported that more than 23 million background checks were conducted last year by the National Instant Check System. Lynch said the system is “overwhelmed” and needs to be upgraded. That’s what the NRA, NSSF and CCRKBA have all been saying for some time.
That’s not just a bunch of old white guys buying firearms. It’s new gun owners, lots of them women, who are buying for the first time. That much is confirmed by anecdotal conversations with gun dealers crowding the aisles here in Las Vegas.
At least some of those new gun owners will translate to votes against anti-gun politicians. People enjoying a right for the first time are less likely to give it up or even see it eroded. The push for more gun control right now may be a recognition of that possibility, and anti-gunners seem determined to lock down as much political terrain as possible while they think they have the ability to do it.
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