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Spokane Valley legislator Rep. Matt Shea says he’ll introduce a bill to repeal a voter-approved law that requires background checks on most private gun sales.
OLYMPIA – Friday was a cutoff day for the Legislature. That’s not to say the weather has been so good that we can shed our raincoats and don jeans that have been shortened by scissors. Rather, it is a term for deadlines the Legislature imposes on itself to pare down the hundreds of bills that get introduced, directing more attention to some while pushing others toward oblivion. Many people refer to the latter as dead, although veteran legislators will tell you that nothing is truly dead until the honorables adjourn for good and go home. Like Lazarus a few have been restored to life over the years. They are, more accurately, on life support and the hand that could pull the plug is hovering.
OLYMPIA – Voter-approved background checks on private gun purchases are unconstitutional and therefore not law, Rep. Matt Shea told gun-rights activists Thursday on the steps of the Capitol. “An unconstitutional law is no law at all,” said the Spokane Valley Republican, who is also a private attorney. He told activists the measure that passed in November violates state and federal constitutions. But the right to bear arms is inalienable and can’t be taken away by voters or the courts.
A protest spurred by a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy’s statement that angered self-described constitutionalists drew more than 300 people to the Spokane Valley Police Precinct parking lot Saturday afternoon. Many of those in attendance carried rifles, handguns or both. A series of speakers criticized Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and called on him to give back the mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP) that the department received for no cost as military surplus.
A protest spurred by a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy statement that angered self-described constitutionalists drew more than 300 people to the Spokane Valley Police Precinct parking lot Saturday afternoon.
OLYMPIA – Hundreds of gun-rights advocates, some dressed in camouflage and a few wearing Santa hats, gathered Saturday on the Capitol grounds to denounce the background-check law Washington voters approved last month. A crowd estimated between 600 and 800 by the Washington State Patrol – and between 1,000 to 2,000 by organizers – cheered as a string of speakers called Initiative 594 unenforceable and “a constitutional abomination.” Some carried rifles, others shotguns, still others pistols or other handguns. One had a sheathed broadsword.
OLYMPIA – The most ephemeral thing in politics might be big majorities. This should be particularly obvious to Democrats as they look to next year’s Legislature. Six years ago, Democrats approached the session with 31 of 49 seats in the Senate and 62 of 98 seats in the House. Those were nearly veto-proof majorities if they’d found the need to override any vetoes from Gov. Chris Gregoire, but considering she was a fellow Democrat, that point was mostly moot.
Initiative 1351 staged a late rally and passed. Estimated cost over four years: $4.7 billion. So now the folks who voted for smaller class sizes have a duty to smoke, toke, drink and scratch, because that’s how we raise money in the “progressive” Evergreen State. “Look, I don’t know how to pay for it, that’s why I didn’t support it,” House Budget Committee Chairman Ross Hunter told the Northwest News Network. Gov. Jay Inslee voted against it. And these are Democrats.
OLYMPIA – Gun rights activists plan to bring their firearms to the Capitol next month to engage in civil disobedience by violating the new background check law that they despise. But there may be a flaw in the plan. What they say they’re going to do – “openly exchange guns” by handing them to someone else – isn’t against Initiative 594, according to Bob Calkins, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, which provides law enforcement on the Capitol grounds. They won’t be arrested or cited for doing that.
The duel between gun-control initiatives is not just a high-stakes clash between philosophies; it also pits a measure that’s short and sweet against one that features in-depth detail. Initiative 591, supported by state and national groups who tout their support of the Second Amendment, is one of the shortest measures to make the ballot in recent memory. Its 191 words would bar any illegal seizures of guns and wouldn’t allow Washington to change its background check laws unless there’s a new national standard.
This spring, a man in King County posted an ad on an online gun market, seeking a 9mm handgun. “Cash in hand for the right deal,” he wrote.
The vast majority of money supporting the initiative to expand background checks on guns comes from just 10 ZIP codes in the Seattle area, much of it from people with ties to the tech industry. An analysis of contributions reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission shows more than $2.8 million in contributions for Initiative 594 – or about 84 cents of every dollar contributed – comes from downtown Seattle, areas around Lake Washington and Shoreline. So far, the ballot measure to extend background checks from licensed dealers to most private sales has raised about $3.2 million, about three times more than the campaign for a counterproposal.
OLYMPIA – A pair of initiatives on gun control had their second and likely last hearing Wednesday, with supporters and opponents disagreeing sharply on when giving a gun to another person would require a background check. Wednesday’s hearing by the Senate Law and Justice Committee didn’t have the same “star power” as Tuesday’s House hearing without former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and former astronaut Mark Kelly to speak in favor of Initiative 594. But it did feature more questions by legislators of the two initiatives’ sponsors, sparking a debate over what it means to “transfer” a firearm.
OLYMPIA – Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords urged Washington legislators to “be bold, be courageous” and require wider background checks on gun sales. Gun rights advocates urged lawmakers to protect constitutional rights and pass a competing initiative. But even before testimony began in a packed hearing room Tuesday, it was clear the Legislature is likely to do neither.