Earlier, this column noted that after the erupting Operation Fast and Furious scandal, all other gun rights stories of 2011 pale by comparison.
Yet here in the Pacific Northwest, there have been issues that raised eyebrows and the consciousness of gun owners considerably, not to mention their blood pressure.
Perhaps the first story is one that wasn’t told: Washington State’s mainstream press outlets completely ignored a top story of 2010 with direct Northwest links: The Supreme Court affirmation that the Second Amendment applies to citizens all over the United States, leading to the repeal of a municipal handgun ban in Chicago.
That case was brought by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, and the fact that the SAF victory was totally ignored by Northwest news agencies was a deliberate slap in the face to the gun rights organization. (If it wasn’t deliberate, those news agencies would have to acknowledge they were asleep at the wheel when the high court ruling came down, and that their memory spans are incompetently short.)
After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and six others were killed by a nutball in Tucson, AZ in January, this column took to task those who tried to capitalize on the mayhem to push an anti-gun agenda.
Seattle’s second loss, before the State Court of Appeals, in its effort to defy state preemption is another on-going story, since the city has applied for State Supreme Court review. This case again involves SAF, its sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the National Rifle Association, Washington Arms Collectors and five individual citizens. The city lost in King County Superior Court in 2010, months before the U.S. Supreme Court incorporated the Second Amendment to the states, and it lost its appeal in October, as reported here.
Now the city wants to take the case to the state high court, hoping to overturn state preemption and thus allow Seattle to adopt its own gun laws. State preemption was adopted in 1983 and strengthened in 1985 and 1994 to prevent just this sort of thing. The trial court and appeals court rulings were vindications for Attorney General Rob McKenna, now running for governor. He warned the city that its parks gun ban was illegal, and then-Mayor Greg Nickels ignored him. This could become a campaign issue of its own in 2012 because Democrat Jay Inslee has been almost uniformly anti-gun in his congressional voting history. It also won’t help Inslee if people recall the position taken by the then-incoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee on gun rights, reinforcing the notion that Democrats are the party of gun control.
SAF continues to make headlines in its string of federal lawsuits, mounted in the wake of its Supreme Court victory over Chicago, that challenge local gun laws. Lawsuits are in progress in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, North Carolina and elsewhere, keeping Bellevue gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb a very busy fellow.
Gottlieb scored even more points as the CCRKBA, which he chairs, launched a nationwide rolling billboard campaign to counter the anti-gun Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Gottlieb’s campaign followed the MAIG from city to city in an effort to tell people that private gun ownership has the positive benefit of discouraging crime and saving lives.
Wolf management in Washington is going to become a huge issue as the predators expand their range under a plan that hunters fear will lead to decimation of elk and mule deer herds. This state already has a terrible problem with mountain lion, coyote and black bear predation which the Department of Fish & Wildlife seems to do nothing about. This column started looking at the wolf situation in an April Fool’s spoof, but things turned serious fast. There have been subsequent reports here, here and here. We also discussed wolf problems in neighboring Idaho here and here. Wolf advocates really became riled when this column appeared recently.
The Endangered Species Act came under additional fire when an Idaho man was charged (later dropped) with a federal crime after he shot one of three grizzlies on his property that came too close to where his five children were playing outside on Mother’s Day.
In a related story, Washington State’s individual right to bear arms was affirmed in an unusual way when the Stevens County sheriff advised residents there to arm up and defend their pets and livestock from a roving band of canines that killed more than 100 domestic animals. The animals were all eventually killed by private citizens.
Concealed carry has continued to increase in Washington, as this column tracked here, here and most recently, here. There are now almost 349,000 concealed pistol licenses in circulation, so when Washington CeaseFire, an extremist gun prohibition group with but 5,000 professed members, announced earlier that it planned to push for a ban on open carry — which is legally and constitutionally protected — it became a matter of legislative mathematics to determine whether the effort would gain any traction in Olympia. Washington’s increase in CPLs is part of a national trend that now sees more than 6.2 million armed citizens, and more on the way in Wisconsin now that the Badger State’s carry law has become effective.
Northwest gun rights activists were outraged when a Canton, Ohio cop threatened to kill a legally-armed citizen during a confrontation captured on the policeman’s dash cam earlier this year. This incident became even more of a problem when a second video surfaced with the same officer making the same kind of threats in a different encounter. (Videos like this do not help public relations when the Justice Department is looking at Seattle police for civil rights violations.) It was so outrageous that the King County Sheriff’s Department circulated the video as a warning of what not to do on a traffic stop.
A Washington State Patrol detective ignited a firestorm among gun dealers and their customers when she sent letters to every gun dealer in the state, seeking information on sales involving semi-automatic rifles. The effort was linked to the investigation of a lost weapon belonging to WSP, which the agency somewhat reluctantly admitted only after the public flap erupted, and inquiries were made by a couple of pro-gun state lawmakers were contacted by alarmed constituents.
Paul Helmke stepped down as president of the Brady Campaign as the gun prohibition group’s momentum continued to erode. America’s attitude about gun ownership has decidedly taken a pro-gun turn over the past few years with two Supreme Court rulings affirming the individual civil right to bar arms. It has not helped that repeated predictions by gun grabbers of violent crime spikes, gunfights at fender benders and more danger to children have not come to pass. Crime has consistently gone down as gun ownership climbed.
Whatever else 2011 provided in the arena of gun rights news, 2012 is likely to surpass it as SAF’s federal lawsuits move forward, the presidential campaign shifts into high gear with Operation Fast and Furious hanging over it like an Olympic Peninsula storm cloud, the gubernatorial campaign that could bring an end to financial and wildlife management nonsense and the Washington Legislature facing a new anti-gun push. This column will cover it all.
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SECOND AMENDMENT FOUNDATION
‘Winning Firearms Freedom One Lawsuit at a Time’
CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS
America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age
These Dogs Don’t Hunt: The Democrats’ War on Guns
Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns
Shooting Blanks: Facts Don’t Matter to the Gun Ban Crowd
Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities