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CeaseFire, Town Hall ‘Civics Series’ to discuss gun control Monday

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Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, will be in Seattle Monday as the keynoter at Washington CeaseFire’s Spring Luncheon event at the Washington Athletic Club, and Monday evening he will lead a panel discussion on “gun reform” at Town Hall Seattle.

The panel will also feature CeaseFire President Ralph Fascitelli, Tony Gomez with Seattle/King County Public Health and State Rep. Cyrus Habib (48th District). According to the Town Hall website, “the panel will explore long-term solutions to reducing violence and changing the cultural status quo. Sandy Hook and other mass shootings have raised questions about gun legislation, prompting movements for change. This conversation will offer tools to make informed decisions about gun reform at all levels…”

Town Hall’s Civics series gathering will be moderated by veteran Seattle P-I.com columnist Joel Connelly. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $5.

“Gun violence prevention” and “gun reform” are, gun rights advocates contend, simply semantic alterations of the term “gun control.” Ditto the term “gun safety.” Proposals in this realm invariably seem to ratchet down on the rights of law-abiding gun owners who would not likely commit a crime with a firearm, they argue.

In Connecticut, New York, Colorado and California, laws were passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy that essentially turned law-abiding people into criminals. Guns and magazines that they have owned for years are now prohibited. So-called "assault weapons" must be registered. Gun rights activists argue that registration is the precursor to confiscation. KVI’s John Carlson has stated repeatedly on the air that the only reason to register guns is to “tax them or to take them.”

While the gun prohibition lobby characteristically offers an agenda that includes bans on so-called “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines,” tighter restrictions on concealed carry, one-gun-a-month schemes, a closure of the so-called “gun show loophole,” and expanded background checks to include all transfers (not just sales) of firearms, it was the firearms community that came up with two common-sense solutions to violent crime that worked. Three Strikes and You’re Out, and Hard Time for Armed Crime started here in Washington State and swept the nation.

By no small coincidence, both measures were championed by Carlson and Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. The National Rifle Association supported both measures, passed by citizen initiative in the mid-1990s.

Shooters at Seattle’s Jewish Federation and Café Racer, the Aurora movie theater, Washington, D.C. Navy Yard, Tucson, Northern Illinois University, Fort Hood 1 and 2, and even Virginia Tech bought their guns at retail and went through background checks. None of them acquired their guns at gun shows.

The two most recent exceptions were Adam Lanza, who murdered his mother and used her legally-obtained firearms at Sandy Hook, and Jacob Tyler Roberts, who stole the rifle he used at the Clackamas Town Center mall from an acquaintance. No background check requirement would have stopped either Roberts or Lanza.

Some in the gun prohibition community suggest that guns should be registered like cars and gun owners should be licensed. Gun rights advocates counter that under this scenario, it should be legal, then, for armed citizens to carry anywhere in the United States, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and other gun restriction enclaves. It would be legal, then, for someone to buy any gun he or she wanted in any state, and the only “background check” conducted would involve the buyer’s credit history.

Monday evening’s Town Hall gathering probably will not likely break any new ground nor change anyone’s mind. Perhaps sometime over the next few months, Town Hall might be open to a program on Second Amendment rights and state gun laws as part of its Civics series.

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