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Looking for ‘loopholes?’ Check press coverage of dueling Wash. initiatives

The gun control debate is continuing to heat up in Washington state.
The gun control debate is continuing to heat up in Washington state.
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

In its latest attempt at what might be considered advocacy journalism to prop up Initiative 594, the Seattle Times last night published another story dealing with accused Seattle Pacific University shooting suspect Aaron Ybarra and how people wonder why this “suicidal, psychotic 27-year-old was allowed to have a gun in the first place.”

The story mentions guns Ybarra had access to in the past, though none of those guns were used in the SPU attack. Ybarra allegedly used a 12-gauge Browning double-barrel shotgun, which apparently had one malfunctioning firing pin, reducing the over-and-under, break-action model to a single-shot firearm.

The article quotes an unidentified spokesman for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the well-financed, Seattle-based gun control group pushing I-594, an 18-page gun control measure. That spokesman asserted that WAGR’s focus “is on closing the gun-show loophole.” Ybarra did not get his gun from a gun show. Neither did two other high-profile gunmen in Seattle-area shootings, Ian Stawicki and Naveed Haq.

If anyone is looking for loopholes, there appear to be some in the Times report. The Times quoted State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), who discussed a bipartisan bill that focused on mental health treatment. “Very much in this state,” he said, “we err on the side of civil liberties for the person who’s being institutionalized.”

On the other hand, the WAGR gun control initiative doesn’t err on the side of gun owners’ civil liberties at all, opponents assert. And in its continuing coverage, the Times erroneously refers to the gun control lobby as “gun safety advocates.” In the gun rights community, the terms “gun safety” and “gun responsibility” translate to “gun control” unless one happens to be discussing the National Rifle Association's excellent firearms training programs, or a hunter education course.

Several weeks ago, Mark Glaze, the former executive director of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns and more recently, anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s newer gun prohibition lobby, the $50 million so-called “grassroots” Everytown for Gun Safety, acknowledged to the Wall Street Journal that the gun control lobby has a “messaging problem.”

“Is it a messaging problem when a mass shooting happens and nothing that we have to offer would have stopped that mass shooting,” he asked rhetorically. “Sure it’s a challenge in this issue.”

The Times story discussed the Santa Barbara killing spree committed by Elliot Rodger, a mentally-unstable individual identified as the “gunman who killed six students near the University of California.” The loophole here is that Rodger killed three of his victims with a knife, but the reference to him being “a gunman” creates the impression among short-memory readers that he killed all of them with a firearm.

Following the Santa Barbara killings, the Times says, “California lawmakers introduced a bill that would create a gun-violence restraining order, in which family members or friends could ask a judge to restrain a dangerously unstable person from possessing guns.” The story quotes Ralph Fascitelli, board president of Washington CeaseFire, insisting the California measure is “absolutely brilliant” and that such a bill here “‘obviously could’ve been helpful’ in preventing the shootings at SPU and the 2012 Café Racer killings.”

Yet the story also notes that such a law is “not on the agenda for Washington gun-safety advocates.” That raises the question, “Why not?” Is it because Washington gun control advocates are more interested in penalizing law-abiding gun owners for breakdowns in state and national mental health systems and services?

The Times story has a map link that shows Washington to be one of the top states for reporting disqualified mentally ill people to the National Instant Check System (NICS). California is also one of the top states. In addition, California has the kind of so-called “universal background check” law now on the books, plus a magazine capacity limit, ten-day waiting period and one-handgun-a-month laws – all trophy statutes pushed by gun control extremists – and Rodger complied with all of them to get the guns he used in Santa Barbara.

Perhaps the biggest loophole in the Times’ continued coverage is what still is not mentioned prominently, if at all, in any “mainstream press” report on the gun control initiative. That’s the opposition from major statewide law enforcement groups, plus seven county sheriffs.

MEANWHILE, former Gun Rights Examiner and more recently a columnist at P.J. Media, Howard Nemerov announced yesterday that he is hanging up his keyboard for other pursuits. Nemerov is a genius at getting data, crunching numbers and raising embarrassing questions about gun control.

In his farewell, he noted, “I began over a decade ago because I was one of those well-meaning liberals who believed the propaganda that we’d be safer in a disarmed society. I believed that gun owners were the problem. I believed that the Brady Campaign were the good guys.

“Then, at the behest of a law enforcement client,” he recalled, “I set out on my own research journey. I learned that gun control is both racist and sexist in its impact on the real people who have to live in disarmed societies. That offended my liberal sensitivities: I was outraged. So I began to write, first for small local sites, and then for progressively large sites.”

Nemerov is possibly the last guy on the planet that any gun prohibitionist wants to see coming through the door with a handful of data and a notebook. His byline will be missed by many people, and this column wishes him continued success.

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