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Monday promises to be a busy news day, but don’t take a bus

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The King County Prosecutor’s office confirmed via e-mail to Examiner that the teen accused of gunning down a North Seattle man for his cellphone last month is scheduled for arraignment Monday in a case that neither Washington CeaseFire – which is running a new anti-gun bus billboard campaign – or the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR) has so far tried to exploit.

That may be in part because no strategy they have suggested nor are currently promoting would have prevented this or any other violent crime, and they know it. Criminals will get their hands on guns regardless what the law says.

WAGR will be busy Monday with its own enterprise, a “walk” from the Seattle Center House to the First United Methodist Church to stage a press event supported by Organizing for Action, the old Barack Obama support committee. According to an e-mail announcement, this event will end with a WAGR press conference, presumably to gin up support for Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure being touted as a so-called “universal background check” law to keep guns away from criminals.

An alternate measure, Initiative 591, sponsored by Protect Our Gun Rights, would require that background checks conducted in Washington comply with a uniform national standard. Not that it matters much, but I-591 garnered more signatures than I-594 when they were both submitted to the Secretary of State's office in December, and they did it with about half the money.

The I-594 fairy tale collides with the reality when it comes to the February slaying of David L. Peterson. He was shot at point blank range, allegedly by 17-year-old Byron Keith Alonzo White, a Ballard High School student. The 9mm handgun used in that crime has not yet been recovered, but it is a cinch that if White is the killer, he did not obtain that gun legally after passing a "universal background check," and he was not carrying it legally, either, as this column has discussed.

Peterson, who moved here from California about two years ago, was taking an evening walk when he was killed. Court papers allege that White tried to steal Peterson’s cell phone, but the 53-year-old Greenwood-area man wrestled it away. When he called 911 to report the crime, White allegedly heard him, walked back to where he was standing and shot him once in the chest. Charging documents say the teen subsequently complained to two friends that the phone “was not as nice as he had hoped.”

Examiner recently also looked at a couple of other fellows who would not have been affected by a new background check law, same as they weren’t stopped by every other gun law.

Monday’s arraignment is scheduled at 8:30 a.m. in the King County Courthouse. The WAGR event kicks off at 12:30, with a press event at the church, which is just a short distance from the Seattle Center, from 1-2:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, CeaseFire has reportedly spent $10,000 on its new bus billboard campaign. The “Just Ask” advertisement has been accepted by Metro in King County, while transit authorities in Pierce and Snohomish counties reportedly turned it down.

“Just Ask” runs counter to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which dealt with another issue by sort of not dealing with it. While “DADT” was supposed to prevent discrimination, “Just Ask” seems designed to promote it, and in the process, teach children it is okay to stigmatize one another if their parents exercise a constitutionally-protected fundamental civil right.

What might happen if a certain gun rights organization approached Metro with a billboard advertisement that said: “Just Educate – One lesson can save your child’s life” with a picture of the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle, the gun safety mascot? Eddie Eagle, of course, is the educational effort that tells children that if they find a gun, “Stop! Don’t touch! Leave the area! Tell an adult!”

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