Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Washington Ceasefire may be promoting discrimination and harassment as defined by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights with their “gun free zone” campaign, according to a sharp-eyed gun rights activist recently discussed in this column who raised the issue last night on an internet chat list.
Spanaway’s Steve Coffman, whose open carry adventure last month elicited a verbal assault and a finger gesture so offensive that Examiner gave it a thumbs down, noted that guidelines published on the City of Seattle’s website explain the following:
Illegal discrimination is when:
- You are treated differently from others in a similar situation; and
- You are harmed by the treatment; and
- You are treated this way because of your membership in a protected class (i.e., race, gender, etc.)
- or -
- Your request for a reasonable accommodation due to a disability is refused without a valid business reason.
Seattle's anti-discrimination laws also protect you from harassment. Harassment is conduct that is directed at you because of your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, etc.
Harassment can include:
- Slurs or epithets
- Threatening acts
- Posting offensive materials on walls, bulletin boards, e-mail, etc.
To be considered harassment, conduct must:
- Be serious and frequent enough to create a hostile environment;
- Interfere with your ability to work, live, or enjoy a public place.
In an e-mail, Coffman noted, “I suggest that when the City of Seattle threw its name and official weight behind Ceasefire's campaign, that the City has now engaged in official discrimination and possibly harassment of law abiding gun owners. Many of us carry for many reasons, including ones based on our political beliefs. As a civil libertarian, I believe that responsibility for my personal protection lies first with myself, and based on that belief, I choose to carry a gun for self defense.”
He is “giving serious thought to going to Seattle and filing a formal discrimination and harassment complaint against the City of Seattle, and the Office of the Mayor.”
It’s the newest chapter in an unfolding comedy-drama that found Bellevue’s Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, facing reporters from four different local network affiliates – KOMO, KING, KIRO and KCPQ – Monday following McGinn’s appearance at a press event on Capitol Hill, accompanied by Ceasefire’s Ralph Fascitelli.
Their “gun free zone” campaign, discussed by this column here and here, is drawing plenty of criticism for being symbolism over substance.
Here’s one analysis of the situation: McGinn came in second during this month’s primary mayoral vote, trailing State Sen. Ed Murray. McGinn needs an issue to bolster his appeal with Seattle liberals, and when one cannot run on a record, one picks a bogeyman and there is nothing like an anti-gun effort to hit a raw nerve with gun prohibitionists and get them fired up…and their attention diverted from other issues.
Likewise, Ceasefire was somewhat left at the boarding platform by the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which is running its 15-page gun control initiative with financing from a wealthy Seattle venture capitalist. Ceasefire had its heyday in 1997, right up to election night that year, when Initiative 676, the gun licensing and registration scheme disguised as a trigger lock measure, was crushed. Ceasefire has not had much success with the Legislature in recent years, so it needs something to get back in the headlines. What better mechanism – at least to Seattle liberals – than to launch an all-flash, no substance gun free zone effort that even Fascitelli acknowledged would not prevent a determined individual from committing mayhem.
Now comes Coffman, the Ruger Blackhawk-carrying private citizen with a reminder that what McGinn is doing amounts to a hypocritical transgression against his own administration’s guidelines against harassment.
The McGinn-Ceasefire effort could easily blow up in their faces, despite the announcement that some 30 businesses have already agreed to participate in this discriminatory effort. One forum, Northwest Firearms, has posted the Facebook page links to most if not all of those businesses, which now face backlash from potential customers who are taking their money elsewhere. That kind of advertising is bad, because not only are they staying away, they’re also alerting family and friends. The economic ripple effect could sting worse than a nest of hornets, which is essentially what has been stirred up by this flap.
Spirited conversations among gun rights activists have sprung up on the WaGuns forum here and here, Seattle Guns, and Open Carry/Washington, and elsewhere. Such conversations translate to lost revenue to private business and lost revenue to the city. This move may have been poorly timed as new data from the Department of Licensing, revealed here yesterday, shows more than 442,200 active concealed pistol licenses in the state. That’s nearly a half-million people that 30 business establishments just told to “stay away; we don’t want your kind around here.”
Gottlieb, in all of his interviews, reminded reporters that this issue boils down to social bigotry. It is the kind of discrimination that would be condemned on editorial pages were it being directed at any other social group, which makes the press just as guilty, in a way, for not condemning it.
With the recent complaints about rising crime on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in the city, gun rights activists could justifiably argue that they not only have a right to go legally armed, they have a responsibility to themselves and those who accompany them.
McGinn and Ceasefire think their responsibilities lie elsewhere, but perhaps they are simply being irresponsible.