Today’s Seattle Times endorsement of Initiative 594 and Friday’s Chicago Tribune story about how applicants for concealed carry permits being denied with no reason or easy avenue of appeal reveals how firearms rights are under subtle, and not-so-subtle attack two days after America celebrated its birthday.
As was expected by many in the Northwest firearms community, the Times has recommended passage of I-594, the confusing, and perhaps questionable, 18-page gun control measure largely financed by wealthy Seattle-area elitists. It also recommends voting against Initiative 591, the simple-to-understand proposal backed by grassroots gun rights activists and law enforcement professionals that prohibits government gun confiscation without due process, and requires that background checks conducted in Washington comply with a uniform national standard.
This came after the editorial board met with proponents and opponents of both measures in a double-header session ten days ago. Many in the firearms community are already accusing the Times editors of being in the bag for I-594, and one even suggested that the sessions were all for show.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune tells the story of military veteran Michael Thomas, whose application for a carry license was denied by “a special review board” for apparently no reason. Thomas has no criminal record and he passed a background check. He is among some 800 people whose applications have been denied, apparently arbitrarily.
The story says the Illinois State Police won’t explain why, will not allow Thomas to see what led to the decision and will not open its records without a court order. Obtaining a court order costs money, as do background checks for mere “transfers” (i.e. loans) of firearms to friends for hunting, target shooting or personal protection.
The process in both states appears to be one of financially beating people down. Ultimately, if one subscribes to this theory, people will succumb to financial limitations that turn their civil right into a heavily-regulated privilege.
What is disturbing about the two situations 2,000 miles apart is that in Washington, the Times is claiming background checks will guarantee that only the right people can have guns. In Illinois, just the opposite is proving true. The “reasonable” law is being used to essentially discourage gun ownership.
Says the Times: “The goal is simple: Protect Washington residents from those the law and sad experiences have demonstrated should not have access to firearms — those with felony convictions, sex offenders, domestic abusers and those with serious mental illnesses.
“These prohibited buyers are already screened at one level of transaction: gun shops,” the Times notes. “I-594 simply makes a logical extension of background checks to other public and private settings that now evade scrutiny.
“Indeed, “ the editorial continues, “those venues are exploited by gun buyers who know they could not pass a routine check, so they go where their records will not be checked.”
In these three paragraphs, the Times editorial demonstrates what gun rights activists suggest is the nonsense that pervades this decision. While insisting that the invasive so-called “universal background checks” at the center of I-594 will keep guns out of the wrong hands, the editorial admits criminals get guns from sources that bypass such checks.
There is a subtle attempt to bring up the mythical "gun show loophole." During the editorial board sessions, I-594 opponents clearly explained that gun shows are not the arms bazaars for criminals that gun prohibitionists claim.
Passing another law will not inspire the criminal element to suddenly become model citizens. Anyone who believes otherwise is delusional, gun rights activists contend.
Back in Illinois, the Tribune says several lawsuits are in the works over the permitting process. People with clean records, as Michael Thomas evidently has, should not be denied the basic right of self-defense outside the home, which the Illinois process allegedly has done.
Rights-minded Seattle Times readers are already ripping the endorsement. In the firearms community, another question has arisen, and that concerns bias. It has not yet been widely reported, outside the confines of this column, that two major statewide law enforcement organizations oppose I-594 and support I-591.
Neither has it been widely reported that I-594 proponents enjoy a hideous financial advantage over the grassroots gun owners their initiative targets, while they still beg for money claiming that the “gun lobby” will spend a fortune to defeat their measure. The other day Michael Bloomberg’s $50 million “Everytown” gun control lobbying group jumped in, presumably to conduct an “independent” campaign to push I-594 and demonize I-591.
It is said money cannot buy happiness. It just might buy a lot of misery, however, for law-abiding gun owners whose only crime is that they are law-abiding gun owners.
Illinois and Washington might be test tube situations. If Illinois authorities can arbitrarily get away with denying someone’s carry application in secret, and if billionaires can buy an election in Washington based on contradictory logic, those ideas will spread.