Yesterday’s 65-year prison sentence for a repeat felon who opened fire on police outside a Seattle nightclub in November 2012 follows the logic of legislation championed by gun rights advocates 20 years ago that pushed “Hard Time for Armed Crime” into law by public initiative.
The sentence seems to have the approval of Seattle Times readers, and should serve as a reminder that hard time for armed crime was an idea that originated with the gun rights community. Indeed, “Hard Time for Armed Crime” was born in Bellevue in 1994, championed by KVI’s John Carlson, supported by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the National Rifle Association. The idea popularly swept the country along with the “Three Strikes” law that also originated here in Washington in 1993.
Those laws were passed overwhelmingly in the early 1990s by public initiative. Unlike a current measure that will only impact law-abiding citizens, Hard Time and Three Strikes have worked to keep criminals off the streets without penalizing honest gun owners.
Two years ago, CCRKBA endorsed a proposal by King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to crack down on armed juvenile offenders. That was also because the proposal had no impact on legally armed citizens.
Friday’s sentence in King County Superior Court was handed down by Judge William Downing against 24-year-old Larry Dawson Daley, Jr. The Seattle Times described him as “a felon with a lengthy criminal history.” The fact that he had a gun should serve as a reminder that outlaws get their hands on firearms despite the law, not some alleged weakness in it.
Daley is a living example of why gun control laws simply don’t work. After he was shot by Seattle Police at the November incident, KOMO News reported that he was a nine-time felon and that his record included three convictions for “unlawful firearm possession.” Odds are unlikely that any of those gun acquisitions involved a background check.
And what was the reported reaction from Daley’s friends after he pleaded with the court for leniency, arguing, “I’m a young man with a lot of life to live. Don’t take me away from my mom and my family for so long?” A family friend contended that, “Nobody was harmed. No lives were lost.”
But Times readers, like people everywhere fed up with armed thuggery in their communities, are having none of it. So far, nobody has wondered how a person only 24 years old could have “a lengthy criminal history.” It suggests a needed fix in the criminal justice system, not a new restrictive gun law.
At the time Daley was arrested, there was a no-bail warrant for “violating his community supervision on a prior first-degree theft charge,” the Seattle Times reported in 2012. People like that don’t submit to background checks during a gun transaction. They don’t respond to much of anything but hard time.