January 29, 2010
Wrapping up this week’s coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on SB 6396 – Sen. Adam Kline’s measure to ban so-called “assault weapons” – the story would not be complete without noting an incident that occurred outside the hearing room.
Prior to the hearing, as several Open Carry activists gathered in the hallway of the John A. Cherberg Senate Office Building, Washington CeaseFire’s Ralph Fascitelli approached a member of the State Patrol’s security team and, after pointing out that there were visibly armed citizens in the building, demanded of the trooper: “Do you know if they’re loaded?”
Sources have confirmed to the Gun Rights Examiner that Fascitelli appeared both irritated and unnerved, and he wanted the State Patrol troopers to check every firearm at the door of the building to see if they were loaded. He was told by the WSP that troopers do not have the authority under state law to do that.
We note that, in connection with this case, several individuals have commented that they would find it strange, maybe shocking, to see a man carrying a gun down the street in broad daylight. Casad’s appellate counsel conceded that she would personally react with shock, but she emphasized that an individual’s lack of comfort with firearms does not equate to reasonable alarm. We agree. It is not unlawful for a person to responsibly walk down the street with a visible firearm, even if this action would shock some people.” State Court of Appeals, Division II, State v. Casad
Fascitelli, in the vernacular, “ain’t from around here.” An East Coast transplant, his activities as the Northwest’s most vocal – and alarmist – gun prohibitionist makes him a sterling example of hoplophobia in action, at least certainly as it applies to his conduct the other day in Olympia. As defined by the late Col. Jeff Cooper, a renowned pistol instructor who was a personal friend of mine, hoplophobia is an “irrational aversion to weapons.”
Evidently, Fascitelli was not aware that carrying firearms in public, even on the Capitol Campus, is legal. Open carry in this state has been affirmed by at least two court rulings in the past several years, State v. Spencer and State v. Gregory Casad, the latter an unpublished opinion from the State Court of Appeals, District II.
Fear of guns has also been discussed at length by Sarah Thompson, MD in her essay titled Raging Against Self-Defense. Dr. Thompson differs from Col. Cooper in her analysis of fear of firearms, insisting that it is not perhaps a true phobia, but simply a strong fear. Those afflicted with this fear, she suggests, project that toward everyone. The result can be an anti-gunner whose fear of guns compels him to try banning them from everyone else’s possession.
Open Carry activists Jim Beal, John Parks and Jeff Hayes told Gun Rights Examiner in separate interviews that they were only a few feet away from Fascitelli when he approached the state trooper. Their accounts have been independently verified by two other sources.
We tried to contact Washington CeaseFire, but learned that Executive Director Kristen Comer’s voice mailbox is full.
The incident was mentioned briefly in a larger discussion on the OpenCarry.org forum. As I noted earlier here, the Open Carry contingent of the gun rights crowd, which numbered more than 300, was particularly well behaved. Likewise, several state troopers who were on hand were both casual and professional at the same time; aware of the visibly-armed citizens, but hardly uncomfortable with their presence.
In my experience, the common thread in anti-gun people is rage. Either anti-gun people harbor more rage than others, or they're less able to cope with it appropriately. Because they can't handle their own feelings of rage, they are forced to use defense mechanisms in an unhealthy manner. Because they wrongly perceive others as seeking to harm them, they advocate the disarmament of ordinary people who have no desire to harm anyone.”—Dr. Sarah Thompson, MD
Prior to the hearing, I had even discouraged some of the Open Carry folks from packing their guns in the open, concerned that their appearance might shift public focus from a very bad piece of legislation to an issue that is already settled by court precedent. As it turned out, the only objection was raised by Fascitelli, who apparently went away disappointed, until he was summoned to testify before the committee in support of the Kline measure.
KOMO’s always-affable Bryan Johnson interviewed Parks and did not seem one bit alarmed at his holstered sidearm.
One might even consider open carry to be covered as much by the First Amendment as it is the Second, and by Article 1, Section 24 of the State Constitution, along with the court precedents protecting it. That Fascitelli might want those armed citizens checked, and perhaps even removed from the premises, suggests that anti-gunners may be just as cavalier about stepping on someone’s freedom of speech and expression as they are about trying to trample on their right to keep and bear arms.
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