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Charges filed in Greenwood murder; SAF wins one in California

SAF's Alan Gottlieb is celebrating another court win in California.
Dave Workman

Seventeen-year-old Byron Keith Alonzo White was charged today as an adult in King County Superior Court with first-degree murder in the shooting death of David Peterson on Feb. 23 in the Greenwood area of Seattle in a case that will be hard for the left to exploit, even though Northwest gun owners expect anti-gunners to try.

About the same time that White was being charged, the Second Amendment Foundation was racking up another win in California over arbitrary handgun carry license issuing policy in Yolo County. That case follows the recent National Rifle Association victory in the similar Peruta case. SAF is joined in this action by the Calguns Foundation and two private citizens.

How are these two stories related? The California case deals with the legal carry of a defensive firearm by a law-abiding citizen. The Seattle case is about the alleged illegal use of a handgun that has not yet been recovered; a gun allegedly carried and used by a teenager who could not possibly have been carrying the gun legally because in this state, as in most others, the minimum age for getting a concealed pistol license is 21. White is only 17.

When crimes like this are committed, the reaction from gun control groups is to call for laws that restrict the rights of people who would not commit such crimes.

White is considered a flight risk, which justifies the high bail amount. He was arrested over the weekend by Port of Seattle police as he was waiting to board a flight to Atlanta, Ga. This column earlier covered the story.

Court documents obtained by this column allege that White attempted to steal a cell phone from Peterson, who was able to hold onto the phone. Allegedly as the teen was walking away, Peterson called police to report the crime, at which point White is accused of walking back, drawing a 9mm pistol and shooting him once in the chest at very close range. It is possible he was killed instantly. The bullet struck him in the heart and went on to perforate his spinal column, according to the court documents.

Whether White is found innocent or guilty, this is not the kind of thing that average law-abiding, legally-armed citizens do, especially over a cell phone. The California situation that brought about both the SAF and NRA legal actions relates to the arbitrary habit of some sheriffs to consistently deny applications for carry licenses. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled twice in the past month that this doesn’t stand constitutional muster.

The SAF case, known as Richards v. Preito, was reversed and remanded.

“Today’s ruling reinforces the Second Amendment’s application to state and local governments, and will help clear the way for more California citizens to exercise their right to bear arms,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb in a prepared statement. “California officials have been put on notice that they can no longer treat the Second Amendment as a heavily-regulated government privilege.”

The Richards case was argued at the same time, and to the same panel, that earlier decided Peruta v. County of San Diego, a similar case challenging overly-restrictive carry license policies, noted SAF attorney Alan Gura. Yolo County and Sheriff Prieto argued that their policies were distinguishable from those struck down in Peruta, but apparently the three-judge panel unanimously disagreed.

SAF is presently waiting to hear whether the Supreme Court will accept another of its cases challenging arbitrary carry licensing laws, this one from New Jersey.


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