Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn held a press event Thursday morning at 11:15 to “make an announcement regarding gun safety,” according to a press release that was not readily found on the mayor’s website or the city’s, but it was broadcast live on the Seattle Channel and was connected with a list of “gun free” businesses now posted on the Washington Ceasefire website.
This came one day after the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation took the unusual, and reluctant, step of petitioning the federal court in Washington, D.C. for a writ of mandamus in the long-running case of Palmer v. District of Columbia. That’s a case concerning the right-to-carry outside of the home in the District, and it was filed more than four years ago but is gathering dust in federal district court.
It’s an ironic situation revolving around gun rights in the two Washingtons. In Seattle, McGinn – facing a stiff challenge from liberal Democrat State Sen. Ed Murray, who just picked up the endorsement of King County Sheriff John Urquhart – may have used this event to appeal to his base, and get a favorable headline. He and Ceasefire joined forces earlier to promote “gun free zones” among private businesses.
In “the other Washington,” SAF is trying to expand gun rights and prod the court into ruling whether the right to bear arms applies to citizens in the nation’s capital like the 2008 Heller ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court said it does.
UPDATE: Today’s Seattle event was held at the Big Picture Theater on First Avenue, which became the 100th business to declare itself "gun free." Earlier this column noted that the theater did not appear on the list of gun free businesses. Presumably that list will be updated. More on this press event later.
SAF was among the civil rights groups that sued the City of Seattle for attempting to override and dance around Washington’s model preemption statute that prevents cities from establishing their own gun regulations. McGinn and Ceasefire want to erase that law, which has stood for 30 years and was reinforced by this state’s court rulings in the Seattle case. SAF was joined by the National Rifle Association, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Washington Arms Collectors and five private citizens in that successful case.
Ceasefire continues to claim, as do other gun prohibition groups, that “Gun violence has become an epidemic in our country, claiming more than 31,000 lives every year.” That applies only if one combines all of the criminal homicides with all of the justifiable homicides, accidents and suicides, and there is much debate over whether mishaps and suicides can justifiably be called “gun violence.”
There might be some spirited debate of a different sort in the federal court now that SAF has petitioned for its writ.
“We realize this is a difficult step to take,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, “but this case has been languishing for 1,475 days, and counting since it was ready for decision. In our case in Moore v. Madigan, challenging the carry ban in Illinois, the trial court took 172 days to rule, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals took 202 days to issue its ruling on the appeal. We have been waiting well over four years for a decision in the Palmer case, which was filed in August 2009, and waiting four more is not an option.”
As Washington Times Senior Editor Emily Miller wrote, “the courts have thrown up repeated roadblocks to delay the law getting overturned for more than four years.”
“The lower court’s failure to decide this case acts as a sort of decision in and of itself,” the SAF petition, written by attorney Alan Gura, adds. “Justice interminably delayed is justice denied. If Petitioners are forbidden from exercising a constitutional right, and the district court never rules on their challenge to that prohibition, the right is lost.”
Whether it’s a reluctant court or a hoplophobic mayor and gun control group, the result is the same. Law-abiding citizens are deprived of a right of self-defense and, if the Ceasefire claim that violence is an epidemic is accurate, disarming the good guys is the wrong antidote.