Friday’s revelation that a bill aimed at banning so-called “assault rifles” has died in committee does not signal that the fight over gun rights in Olympia is finished, gun rights activists are saying.
There is plenty of talk at the Washington Arms Collectors’ weekend gun show in Puyallup about the proposals that died, and some that are still around. Those who recognize the fight isn’t over are ahead of the curve.
This is just the end of Round One. But what is happening in the Evergreen State is reflective of what may be a national trend. Furor over passing every kind of restrictive gun law was at a fever pitch immediately after the Sandy Hook tragedy in Connecticut two months ago, but passage of time has allowed reason and analysis to replace rhetoric and emotion.
Support for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s resurrection of the federal ban on semi-automatics and standard capacity magazines has waned, and now the focus appears to be on so-called “universal background checks.” Of course, supporters of more restrictions have backed away from arguments that these laws will accomplish anything, switching their sales pitch to the traditional fall back: “it won’t stop all crime, but if it saves just one life.”
Senator Ed Murray’s SB 5737 was among several anti-gun bills that died with the Friday cut-off, but that doesn’t mean the game is over. As Joe Waldron with the Gun Owners’ Action League of Washington noted in his weekly news report the GOAL Post, “Bills that did not make it out of their original policy committee by the end of business today are theoretically considered dead for the remainder of the session.
“They may be reconsidered during any special session or in the 2014 session,” he added. I say theoretically because the cut-offs are an arbitrary date adopted at the beginning of a session. If sufficient pressure is brought to bear, a bill may be resurrected.”
Among the other measures that died were bills dealing with unlawful juvenile firearms possession, range protection and the so-called “Firearms Freedom Act.”
Still breathing is Seattle Rep. Jamie Pedersen’s HB 1588, the controversial “universal background check” measure over which so much angst has been expressed this past week because Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, has been willing to talk to Pedersen and Rep. Mike Hope (R-Lake Stevens) about a “compromise measure.”
Gottlieb has put some strong conditions on this negotiation, and they bear repeating.
- Concealed pistol license holders would be exempt.
- There would be no record keeping.
- Transactions/transfers between family members would be exempt.
- Transactions between members at membership gun shows, such as the Washington Arms Collectors, would be exempt because membership requires a background check.
- The state pistol registry would be abolished.
It is that last condition that would make a revised agreement such a prize, say activists who tell this column they took the time to analyze what Gottlieb was up to.
As noted above, anti-gunners are already hinting at an initiative to push a gun ban, and tossing in an invasive background check would not be so difficult to imagine. Pushing for these checks is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns. What would prevent billionaire Bloomberg from doing here what he has been doing in Chicago, throwing his financial support behind such a measure as his Independence USA political action committee is doing to savage Debbie Halvorson in the race to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr?
Would gun owners want a background check measure to be one dictated by anti-gunners, or one crafted with their own influence?
Not surprisingly, some people stubbornly believe that background check requirements can be abolished, without explaining how. Good luck with that.
On the other hand, if this bill dies because anti-gunners do not want to agree to any concessions on their part, gun owners will have the high ground because they will be able to say they tried to negotiate but the gun prohibition crowd would not negotiate in good faith.