Inside Opinion

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Tag: firearms

March
23rd

Lawmakers must revisit sensible gun safeguards

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

So far, the 2013 Legislature hasn’t shown much interest in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerously unbalanced people.

Next year may be another story. Let’s consider a few things an older and wiser set of lawmakers ought to do:

Every gun sale – including those between private parties – should be subject to a federal background check. This safeguard is so stupefyingly reasonable that lawmakers should have approved it by acclamation by now.

Instead, it’s been derailed in the Democratic House by pressure from Second Amendment absolutists. Their chief objection, we gather, is that it will lead to registration and confiscation of all firearms by a future tyranny.

But there’s a disconnect between their rhetoric and existing law. If they’re serious, why aren’t they trying to repeal the existing laws that require all licensed gun dealers to run background checks on all buyers?

Dealers not only run checks but also maintain records of sales subject to review by police. So the dreaded registration already exists – and has existed for many years without jackbooted storm troopers sweeping up citizens’ guns.

What’s more, all applications for concealed pistol permits also go through the system and are kept on record by law enforcement. Again, registration without confiscation.

Those requirements apply to all law-abiding people who keep and bear firearms, and nobody’s raising a stink. Yet when private sales are involved, the very same background checks suddenly become a terrifying step toward dictatorship. Come on.

Here’s another proposition that ought to be even less controversial: People who lack the mental competence to use firearms safely shouldn’t have them.
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March
9th

Why isn’t this gun-check bill racing through the Legislature?

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The effort in Olympia to require background checks for private sales of firearms is turning into a case study of veto by minuscule minority.

Washingtonians want all gun purchasers screened for criminal records and severe psychiatric disorders. The margin of support for universal background checks is off the charts: A recent Elway Poll suggests that roughly 79 percent of Washington voters want everyone screened, including private individuals buying from other private individuals.

Among gun owners, 71 percent of the respondents wanted checks on all purchasers.

The poll hardly looks stacked against gun supporters. It also reported that 55 percent considered the protection of gun rights more important than the control of gun ownership. But even if, say, a 10 percent bias against firearms were embedded in the poll, support for universal background checks would still be extraordinarily high.

Cut to Olympia, where a bill that would enact those checks is faltering in the Legislature – fought by absolutists purporting to represent responsible gun owners.

House Bill 1588 wouldn’t ban military-style “assault weapons.” It wouldn’t require that gun owners register their firearms. It wouldn’t slap them with prohibitive insurance requirements. It wouldn’t make it harder for them to get concealed pistol permits.

No reasonable person can construe it as attack on a law-abiding person’s right to bear arms – a right that is explicitly guaranteed by the Washington Constitution, not to mention the Second Amendment.

HB 1588 is designed to make it harder for dangerous people to get their hands on firearms. It wouldn’t catch all of the bad guys – who can steal guns or buy them on the black market – but it wouldn’t deter irresponsible sellers and create an additional obstacle that would likely save lives.
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Feb.
2nd

Paranoia is sole argument against background checks

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

We’re trying real hard to think of reasons why private sales of firearms shouldn’t involve FBI background checks, and we’re coming up short.
Measures requiring background checks on all gun purchasers ought to be sailing through Congress. The vast majority of Americans – including most gun owners – support universal checks. Only absolutists who see jackbooted gun-grabbers in every shadow are fighting these proposals.

In Olympia, things are moving. Last week, state Rep. Jamie Pederson and 35 co-sponsors introduced a universal screening bill in the state House of Representatives.

It’s very simple. Licensed gun dealers are already required to run the names of would-be buyers through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Nondealers who want to sell their guns would have to do the same for their buyers, using either the system of a dealer or the local police.

The cost could not exceed $20, plus any FBI charges. That’s a reasonable price for buyers who bypass licensed dealers – especially since dealers must incur costs for the background checks they are required to run.
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March
28th

Concealed guns and stupidity: A deadly combination

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Ask George Zimmerman – if you can find him – if he still thinks it was a great idea to pack heat while doing neighborhood watch patrols in Sanford, Fla. This wannabe police officer may be rethinking the whole idea of looking for trouble with a lethal weapon at hand.

Witnesses have given wildly conflicting accounts of just how Zimmerman came to shoot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month. Whatever happened, the confrontation ended with Martin dead and Zimmerman despised by millions as a racist gunslinger.

He may never be arrested or convicted of anything. But he’s won immortality on the Internet, and a stigma will follow him for life.

The theme of “guns in the hands of foolish people” plays out every day, everywhere in this country. In Pierce County Superior Court, a man and a woman have just been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of 3-year-old Julio Segura-McIntosh ­– the woman’s son – in a car two weeks ago.

It’s a pathetic story. Police say the man was carrying a handgun with a legal permit; he shoved the weapon under the seat when he got out to buy gas at a Tacoma convenience store. The woman, reportedly worried that her son might get the 9mm pistol, reportedly retrieved it and put it under her own seat.

Then, police say, she left the car with the gun unattended. The 3-year-old got it and accidentally shot himself in the head.

The criminal justice system will have to decide how culpable the man and woman are. They should be held to account in some way.

Subject to reasonable restrictions, gun ownership is a constitutional right in the United States. But this particular right comes with an exceptionally high burden of responsibility. Many people can’t handle it.
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Jan.
13th

Guns & gun control: First get the facts straight

A problem with some gun control advocates is that they discredit themselves the moment they open their mouths. As we say in the trade, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but you don’t get to make up your own facts.

Roger Lowenstein here at least doesn’t confuse semi-automatic guns with automatic guns, a common self-discrediting mistake. But he wants even semi-automatic guns “banned, for good,” apparently believing they aren’t legitimate hunting weapons.

That would come as a surprise to virtually every hunter in the world.

His discussion of the Constitution and the Second Amendment completely ignores the Supreme Court’s contrary rulings on the matter. When the high court majority has pointedly rejected your legal views, you should at least acknowledge that they are not beyond dispute.

“Its doubtful the framers envisioned people possessing private weapons or taking weapons to their individual homes, as that would have detracted from a militia’s effectiveness.” Three whopping blunders in a single sentence – possibly a record for the English language.
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