Latest from The Spokesman-Review
A.J. Balukoff, Democratic candidate for governor, is refusing to fill out a National Rifle Association candidate questionnaire, saying it’s “biased and loaded with leading questions that do not allow me to accurately state my position on gun laws.” In a letter back to the NRA, he wrote, “The leading questions and multiple-choice answers in your questionnaire allow for only polarizing and extreme positions.” He noted in particular a question about Idaho’s guns on campus bill, SB 1254, that passed this year. “I believe this bill was not necessary and creates more problems than it solves,” Balukoff wrote. “University presidents, faculty and students should have the ability to determine the culture of their college campus. That culture should not be dictated from the Statehouse.”
You can read both Balukoff’s letter and the NRA questionnaire online here. Balukoff faces Terry Kerr of Idaho Falls in the Democratic primary in May; GOP Gov. Butch Otter, who backed SB 1254 and signed it into law, faces Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who also supported the bill, along with two other GOP primary challengers, Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.
Padden calls for a vote on firearms bill.
OLYMPIA — A person under a restraining order for domestic violence can be ordered to surrender all firearms under a law that passed the Legislature this afternoon.
In a 49-0 vote, the Senate sent to Gov. Jay Inslee a bill that allows the subject of such a restraining order to be required give up his or her guns after a hearing if a judge rules that person is a credible threat. The bill was first proposed last year in the House and went through several changes as it moved back and forth between the chambers.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said the bill complies with both the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the stronger protections for having firearms in the state constitution. “There are times when people should not have these firearms,” he said.
With an amendment for due process procedures that include a notice, the hearing and the judge's finding, the National Rifle Association dropped its opposition to the bill, Padden said. HB 1840 passed the House 97-0 last month.
“… (T)he right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” So says the Second Amendment. It doesn't say, except at Brigham Young University-Idaho at Rexburg. ” … The people shall have the right to keep and bear arms, which right shall not be abridged. …” So says the Idaho Constitution. It doesn't say, except at Northwest Nazarene University at Nampa. Yet Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, and the National Rifle Association have self-limited their ambitions. They would allow students to carry a concealed weapon on campus — if that campus is owned by the state of Idaho. University of Idaho? Boise State University? Lewis-Clark State College? Yes. College of Idaho at Caldwell? No. Their bill would apply to students 21 years and older who have undergone a minimal amount of training to qualify for an enhanced concealed weapons permit. Its path to passage is greased by politicians scared witless of the gun lobby/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: The NRA is wrong re: guns on campus. Period. Any questions?
“It’s a broad infringement on constitutional rights,” Dakota Moore, National Rifle Association lobbyist, told the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning, of the state’s current policy of allowing public colleges and university to regulate guns on campus; all ban them. He contended that Idaho’s colleges and universities misinterpret current law. “It’s currently legal for you to possess a firearm on a college or university campus – the most a college or university can do is ask you to leave and potentially prosecute you under the criminal trespass standard,” Moore said/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
But even before testimony began in the packed hearing room Tuesday, it was clear the Legislature is likely to do neither.
Initiative 594, which would subject most Washington gun sales to the kind of background checks now required when buying from a dealer, and Initiative 591, which would expand background checks in the state only if there's a new federal standard, aren’t likely to pass the Legislature. They're headed, instead, for the fall ballot, Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, indicated.
“This is the beginning of a dialogue we'll be having at least until November,” Jinkins said. “Let's keep it civil.”
And for the most part, it was… .
HUNTING — The pressure on sportsmen applied by the NRA and other gun rights organizations to “vote their sport” is particularly troubling since in the past 25 years it’s strayed from the big picture of fish, wildlife and habitat conservation to the narrow premise that a candidate is viable only if he has an unblemished record of opposing gun control.
This narrow approach to voting in 1994 helped unseat former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, the last major Washington candidate, I believe, to pose in a duck blind with a shotgun for statewide campaign ads.
Sportsmen are distinguished for being politically savvy, but they got snookered in that election.
RIP Tom Foley. I hope sportsmen reflect on your service and ability to work with all parties to keep wildlife in the equation.
The National Rifle Association is asking the Supreme Court to strike down decades-old regulations prohibiting the sales of handguns to adults under the age of 21. The powerful gun lobby is challenging a lower federal court’s October ruling that upheld the ban. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the current regulations are consistent with a long-held view that young adults between the ages of 18 and 20 “tend to be relatively immature and that denying them easy access to handguns would deter violent crime”/Ben Goad, The Hill. More here.
Question: Do you want the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the ban on handgun sales to individuals under 21?
SHOOTING — The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today dismissed a lawsuit brought by environmental groups seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency to ban ammunition containing lead components.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in August. The court today agreed with NSSF that EPA does not have the authority to regulate traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The environmental groups are considering an appeal of today’s ruling, according to The Center for Biological Diversity, noting the federal judge dismissed the case on technical grounds but did not rule on the substance of the claim, namely whether EPA should regulate lead ammunition under the toxics law.
Read on for media releases on today's ruling from these two groups representing both sides of the issue:
SHOOTING — This court case — stemming in part from secondary deaths to creatures such as California condors that die after ingesting lead bullet fragments from wounded game — is worth watching.
Local note: The Loon Lake Loon Association is among the plaintiffs. The association was instrumental in getting fishing restrictions on lead weights and lures in more than a dozen northern Washington lakes where loons nest.
What: A federal court will hear arguments this week in a lawsuit filed by conservation groups against the Environmental Protection Agency for its refusal to address toxic lead in hunting ammunition that poisons and kills eagles, endangered condors and other wildlife as well as threatening human health. The court hearing will focus on motions to dismiss the lawsuit by the EPA, National Rifle Association and other gun groups; and whether the EPA has the authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate toxic lead in ammunition.
When: Thursday, May 23, 2 p.m.
Where: U.S. District Court, 333 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., in Courtroom 24A before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan
Background: In 2012, 100 organizations in 35 states formally petitioned the EPA to use the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate the toxic components of hunting ammunition, including the lead bullets and shot projectiles that cause lead poisoning of wildlife.
When the EPA refused to evaluate the petition, the Trumpeter Swan Society, Cascades Raptor Center, Center for Biological Diversity, Loon Lake Loon Association, Preserve Our Wildlife, Tennessee Ornithological Society and Western Nebraska Resources Council filed a lawsuit in 2012.
The National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International and Association of Battery Recyclers intervened in the case, claiming the EPA does not have authority to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
After approving the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976, the U.S. House of Representatives said in a report about the history and intent of the Act that it “does not exclude from regulation under the bill chemical components of ammunition which could be hazardous because of their chemical properties.” The EPA has already declared that lead is a toxic substance and taken steps to remove it from other products and uses.
The shooting of two Spokane County sheriff's deputies last year by a reputed heroin trafficker with a penchant for firearms and a long history of felony convictions is now getting national attention.
Above is a YouTube trailer for a new documentary, produced by the NRA as part of its Life of Duty series, which takes viewers on an in-depth look at the shocking case from the perspectives of those who survived it. Called “Catch & Release,” the documentary takes a critical look at U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno's decision to release accused drug kingpin Charles Wallace into an unsecured drug treatment facility in Spokane Valley while awaiting trial — over the objections of the cops and federal prosecutors familiar with the case.
As those of us in Spokane know all too well, Wallace quickly walked away from the American Behavioral Health Systems facility to a waiting car. A few days later he would open fire on Deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway, critically wounding both and sparking a rolling gun battle and wild chase that ended north of Deer Park when Wallace crashed at a police blockade and then took his own life.
The Spokesman-Review interviewed the deputies last year for a gripping story about their ordeal. The magistrate, Imbrogno, has a history of controversial pre-trial release decisions but she's also been accused by defense attorneys of being too tough.
The full documentary can be viewed here.
Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, in Huckleberries comments section (re: Obama on gun vote: 'Shameful day'): But in the Legislature and the Governor's budget this year spending for mental health services was decreased over the year before, and millions under pre-recession levels. Health and Welfare has withdrawn MH workers from all except our urban areas due to budget restrictions, county jails and prisons are now the largest provider of mental health services in the State. We stopped funding for behavioral counselors in our schools. I tend to agree that the amendment would not have done much, but in spite of the loud cries from the NRA and pro-gun advocates that better mental health services are needed, we are making no progress. I would like to see the NRA put some effort behind improving mental health services. More below. (StateImpact file photo)
Question: Do you think the NRA should use its considerable grass-roots clout to lobby for more funding for mental health services?
The Senate gun control debate on the near horizon, a National Rifle Association-sponsored report on Tuesday proposed a program for schools to train selected staffers as armed security officers. The former Republican congressman who headed the study suggested at least one protector with firearms for every school, saying it would speed responses to attacks. The report’s release served as the gun-rights group’s answer to improving school safety after the gruesome December slayings of 20 first-graders and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. And it showed the organization giving little ground in its fight with President Barack Obama over curbing firearms/Associated Press. More here. (AP photo: Gun-rights activist protests legislation in Connecticut today)
Question: Do you like this idea?
OLYMPIA — A resolution praising a school program to teach firearms safety to kids briefly ignited the gun-control debate in the state Senate this morning.
The resolution was in support of the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, which is sponsored by the National Rifle Association and offered free to schools It calls for the state's schools, pre-schools, early learning centers and licensed day care facilities to promote the use of the program.
Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, objected, saying the program isn't just about gun safety, “it's about the NRA”. He said that organization has been working to block all gun-control legislation this session, including one of his proposals that allowed a person in mental distress to voluntarily turn a gun over to police for 30 days for safe-keeping. The majority coalition that runs the Senate has been “a bit too obedient” to the NRA, he contended.
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said she couldn't believe anyone would vote against a child safety program, regardless of its source.
“Does Ceasefire have a program to help teach children how to be safe?” Roach asked, mentioning a prominent gun-control group. “If you're not in favor of a program to help save children's lives, vote 'No.'”
Sen. Marilyn Chase, D-Shoreline, the sponsor of the resolution, agreed the issue was about gun-safety, adding none of the Eddie Eagle literature mentions the NRA. “I am not an advocate for an organization that makes excuses for assault weapons manufacturers.”
The resolution, SJM 8006, passed 40-8.
Were it not for the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary it probably wouldn’t be news the Texas 500 will soon become the NRA 500. In the wake of the tragedy questions are being raised as to the timing behind the NRA’s decision to purchase its first major NASCAR sponsorship.
Mitt Romney will make a high-profile pitch to wary gun owners today when he speaks to the National Rifle Association. The likely GOP presidential nominee has said he will protect the Second Amendment but is viewed with some skepticism among gun owners, in part because of his record as Massachusetts governor and some of his previous comments about gun ownership. In 1994, when Romney ran against Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Republican said “I don't line up with the NRA.” During his 2002 gubernatorial bid, Romney proclaimed: “We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts. I support them. I won't chip away at them.” Gun-licensing fees went up during Romney's tenure/USA Today. More here. (AP photo)
Question: Are you a member of the NRA?
Rich, Renee, Paige and Kurt Wyatt, a family known for firepower and cleavage, will be available to the public 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m.
The annual fundraising banquet raises money to promote gun safety, education programs and scholarships. Tickets available at Sharp Shooting, White Elephant, Wholesale Sports and Mountain Shadow Arms.
SHOOTING — A bill to protect shooting ranges from civil liability and noise pollution lawsuits, House Bill 1508, has been introduced in the Washington Legislature by state Representatives Dean Takko (D-19), Tim Probst (D-17), and Kevin Van De Wege (D-24).
“Shooting ranges are critical to competitive and recreational shooters, hunters, law enforcement, and for individuals who just want to practice for self-defense,” an NRA alert reminds us. “Shooting ranges should be both accessible and affordable for everyone. Washington is one of only two states that does not have some form of a range protection law. There are currently several shooting ranges in Washington that are facing legal battles and burdensome regulations, which if not addressed, could result in their closure.”
According to the bill, rules that regulate noise in the “outdoor atmosphere do not apply to a sport shooting range.”
HUNTER EDUCATION — Washington drivers could license their cars with a National Rifle Association logo if the Washington House of Representatives passes a bill that would create an NRA special license plate.
The Seattle Times reports some of the money from the sale of the plates would help fund a hunter safety program.
The Department of Licensing currently offers 47 different special license plates for various causes such as endangered species, although the Licensing agency keeps most of the money.
While some of the plates are sponsored by state agencies, many are coordinated by groups, such as those for veterans and bicycling advocacy.
CONSERVATION — Opinions among wildlife conservationists regarding legislation that could allow more motor vehicle use in federal roadless areas.
Which side do you take?
Hunting, fishing groups join environmentalists to fight federal legislation
Members of Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development are joining the National Wildlife Federation and other similar organizations to oppose House Resolution 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011, while Safari International and the National Rifle Association support the legislation.
—Durango Herald (Colorado News Connection); Dec. 31
When it comes to safety on college campuses, whom do you believe?University officials and local law enforcement agencies — the people entrusted to keep the peace? Or the National Rifle Association, a special-interest group seeking to put Idaho into its win column? Earlier this year, 41 House members — 40 Republicans and one Democrat — took the NRA’s side and passed a bill allowing concealed weapons on Idaho college campuses. The House-passed bill died in a Senate committee. Considering the NRA’s success in one legislative chamber, it’s only inevitable that the group is coming back to take another run at a weapons-on-campus bill. On Thursday, an NRA lobbyist took the group’s case to Idaho State University’s student union building/Idaho Statesman Editorial Board. More here.
Question: Are you a member of the National Rifle Association?
BOWHUNTING — From my recent interview with Ted Nugent, here's an audio clip of his rant on the archery industry and its tendency to promote high-poundage bows.
In a Coeur d’Alene Press op-ed piece, local Democratic leader Thom George writes: “On Sept. 28, 2010, the Coeur d’Alene Press printed an opinion piece by Jeff Ward in which he complained about “a lot of untruths, half truths, and bald-faced lies” that are told during a political campaign. And then mere sentences later he told a “bald-faced lie” about Congressman Walt Minnick’s NRA rating, knowingly and falsely claiming the Congressman had a rating of D+ instead of the factual rating of B+. According to a report on the Idaho Reporter website, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said Minnick voted with the NRA 100 percent of the time in the U.S. House and scored well on its questionnaire for candidates. Jeff, there you go again.” More here.
Question: At this point, when Congressman Walt Minnick’s grade from the NRA should be well known to all, is there any excuse for Republicans to purposely misrepresent it?
The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is endorsing Butch Otter for re-election as Governor of Idaho. “Butch Otter has earned the NRA-PVF endorsement for his solid pro-gun record,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA-PVF. “His commitment to preserving our Second Amendment rights and hunting heritage makes Butch Otter the clear choice for Idaho gun owners and hunters”/National Rifle Association. More here.
A Belated Good Afternoon, Netizens…
In this cartoon presented by cartoonist David Horsey, it might appear as if he were doing no favors to the members of the National Rifle Association, since they ostensibly would approve of bringing guns to a Presidential event if not anywhere God-fearing, gun-packing citizens feel guns are necessary.
However, as someone who once had an elderly Aunt who was a registered member of the NRA, my first question would be, what about the Women of the NRA?
I guess if having a small penis is a prerequisite for bringing guns to a Presidential event, one could state with some degree of candor that some women figuratively do have small penises, too. Very small, that is.
At least we tentatively do understand who would bring guns to a Presidential event and can proceed on that basis.