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On dueling gun control measures, do you trust church congregations or cops?

It's a black-and-white issue, with law enforcement supporting I-591 and church congregations backing I-594.
It's a black-and-white issue, with law enforcement supporting I-591 and church congregations backing I-594.
Dave Workman

For the first time in a general news publication, the Seattle P-I.com’s Joel Connelly on Tuesday reported that Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure backed by wealthy Seattle-area elites is opposed by a major statewide law enforcement group.

Connelly spent much of his report discussing how the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), which has more than $1 million in the bank against a very small sum held by Protect Our Gun Rights (POGR) – the group backing Initiative 591, which is supported by law enforcement – is getting major support from several Seattle-area church congregations. The other day, the measure was endorsed by the parish of St. Mark’s Cathedral.

This development begs the question, when it comes to an issue that purportedly addresses crime and how to prevent criminal behavior, do you trust the sentiments of religious congregations or the savvy of law enforcement professionals? Connelly reported what this column has repeatedly noted, that I-594 is opposed by the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS). It’s also opposed by the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association (WSLEFIA), which also has endorsed I-591.

There’s more. According to the POGR website, also on the list of people endorsing I-591 are the sheriffs of seven counties – four in eastern Washington and three on the west side – plus a retired Washington State Parks chief of law enforcement and the president of the Washington State Retired Deputy Sheriffs & Police Officers Association.

Connelly notes that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe are both backing I-594. They contend that the gun control measure will make a difference, while the rank-and-file lawmen don’t believe it. WACOPS is the state’s oldest and largest law enforcement organization, and its opinion should carry a lot of weight. The group announced its opposition to I-594 after hearing from Satterberg and from proponents of I-591 in June.

WACOPS President Craig Bulkley noted in a statement that his organization has the following objections:

  • This measure is being billed as a public safety measure but we, as law enforcement officers, do not believe that this will keep guns out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. They will continue to ignore the law and engage in black market transactions.
  • The responsibility for enforcing this law – conducting background checks, investigating, and arresting citizens who do not comply – will fall on law enforcement, diverting already scarce resources.
  • The restrictive compliance measures for transfers and loans of guns will cause law-abiding citizens to unintentionally commit crimes and possibly be convicted of gross misdemeanors or Class C felonies.

The big bank account will allow WAGR the luxury of making big media advertising buys over the next few months. Those messages will undoubtedly overlook the fact that law enforcement appears to be lining up against their measure.