Even before their morning press event on Capitol Hill to push their “gun free” businesses idea, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Washington CeaseFire were being heavily panned by a majority of people commenting at the Seattle Times, KOMO, Seattle P-I.com and KING websites, and lurking in the background are some questions.
Does this have anything to do with recent Open Carry activism in Seattle? If this effort began as a reaction to Open Carry – singling that practice out for harassment – it is looking more and more like a public relations debacle.
Who paid for the decals? CeaseFire's Ralph Fascitelli told Examiner via e-mail that his group paid for the design, but he is "not sure" who paid for the printing. The city paid for it, according to various reports.
The Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms issued a press statement about 30 minutes before the media event Monday morning, in which Chairman Alan Gottlieb said the move is aimed at “political theater rather than public safety.”
If McGinn was looking for a campaign issue in an effort to win a second term against State Sen. Ed Murray, who beat him in the primary earlier this month, a ploy that essentially promotes discrimination based on lifestyle choice – exercising a fundamental, constitutionally-protected civil right – may have been the wrong horse for the mayor and CeaseFire to climb aboard.
On the Open Carry forum, one observer stated, “At least crooks will know which places to rob. This is Seattle. Where it's better to wrap yourself in a warm blanket of utopian ideas instead of dealing with the harshness of reality.” The reaction over on the Washington Arms Collectors' Facebook page is just as interesting.
This may be an attempt to coerce Starbucks and other “firearms neutral” businesses to buckle under to what appears to be a social bigotry movement. Coffee shops and other establishments that abide by state law and cater to armed citizens have refused to budge on their business philosophy.
Gottlieb noted in his press release that participating businesses could take a financial hit by discriminating against potential customers. As of this morning, according to the Department of Licensing, there are more than 442,000 active concealed pistol licenses in the state, and that is a huge audience to be alienating.
“If these businesses are willing to alienate hundreds of thousands of law-abiding potential customers,” Gottlieb observed, “it’s their bottom line that could ultimately suffer.”
Gottlieb also raised the specter of legal recourse if a customer is harmed in one of these gun free establishments because he or she was prohibited from being armed. He said in such an event, “the business and its owner should be held personally liable by the victims of this foolishness.”
Seattle Councilman Bruce Harrell, chairman of the Public Safety Committee and former mayoral candidate, told the Seattle Times that McGinn might better spend his time trying to undo the state’s 30-year-old model preemption statute. That has been attempted before, but it has invariably been rejected by state lawmakers who do not wish to return the state to a patchwork of different, and sometimes contradictory, gun laws.
In 1983, the legislature passed a uniform law that prevents cities from passing their own gun ordinances. It was strengthened two years later, and has served as a model for state preemption laws around the country. A lawsuit that prevented Seattle from adopting an administrative regulation banning guns from city park facilities was won by CCRKBA, the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association and Washington Arms Collectors almost two years ago, following a court battle dating back to 2008. The decision strengthened the preemption law rather than erode it.
The owner of Café Racer, scene of last year’s multiple homicide by a deranged gunman who moments later murdered a woman in order to steal her car, sided with McGinn and CeaseFire, asserting, “It sends a message that it’s not cool to just walk around with a gun all the time because bad things happen. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s really, really bad.”
People reacting to that remark disagree with its perspective, noting that when “really, really bad” things happen, it is much better to be able to defend one’s self than to wait for police, who will be minutes away when seconds count.
This move comes at the same time that the Seattle-based Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is pushing a 15-page gun control initiative to the Legislature, and together, these issues demonstrate to the firearms community and even non-gun owners just how extreme anti-gunners are becoming in Seattle.