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Seattle Mariners, Rep. Larsen strike out with gun owners

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A report last night on KOMO that the Seattle Mariners – following a security mandate from Major League Baseball (MLB) that will apparently be in full force by 2015 – will screen all fans with metal detectors at Safeco Field starting this year has Evergreen State gun owners fuming.

MLB has reportedly been working with the Department of Homeland Security on the stadium security issue. Like any federal agency, DHS seems to think that making citizens defenseless somehow translates to making them safer, critics will argue.

Many gun owners are sounding off on the KOMO website with no small amount of sneering sarcasm about the team’s inability to win games, thus draw crowds to “The Safe” and a few mention their concerns about getting back and forth from the stadium to their parked cars.

Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale insisted the move is being made because “Fan safety and security is our top priority.” That seems rather shaky logic considering the potential for crime between the stadium and parking lots – remember this is the same neighborhood in which Shoreline Community College professor Troy Wolff was stabbed to death after leaving neighboring Century Link Stadium – not to mention the probability that after every game, at least some fans leave The Safe after downing several beers only to climb behind the wheel of their sedan or SUV, and everybody knows it.

Many gun owners have long questioned whether they can legally be prohibited from carrying firearms at the stadium because of state law. It depends upon how one reads the statute, and whether the facility is considered public or private property, or managed privately. Police are already miffed at a gun prohibition at Century Link. Here’s the part of the law that has gun rights activists crying foul:

(2) Cities, towns, counties, and other municipalities may enact laws and ordinances:

(a) Restricting the discharge of firearms in any portion of their respective jurisdictions where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized. Such laws and ordinances shall not abridge the right of the individual guaranteed by Article I, section 24 of the state Constitution to bear arms in defense of self or others; and

(b) Restricting the possession of firearms in any stadium or convention center, operated by a city, town, county, or other municipality, except that such restrictions shall not apply to:

(i) Any pistol in the possession of a person licensed under RCW 9.41.070 or exempt from the licensing requirement by RCW 9.41.060….

Whether a court challenge arises out of this new restriction remains to be seen, but it already appears to have convinced many gun owners to write Mariners baseball off of their “to do” list for 2014.

The Mariners are not the only ones taking sides against gun owners, it appears. Congressman Rick Larsen last week endorsed Initiative 594, the 17-page gun control measure now before the State Legislature in Olympia. I-594 is backed by the well-financed Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and is ostensibly being pandered as a so-called “universal background check” proposal.

The Seattle Weekly and Seattle P-I.com both played up Larsen’s decision. The Weekly erroneously repeated the demonstrably false suggestion that the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation will be waging “all-out war” against I-594. SAF has nothing to do with the political battle and never has because the foundation does not engage in political campaigns.

SAF’s sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, is part of the Protect Our Gun Rights coalition supporting Initiative 591, which requires background checks to comply with a uniform national standard. The confusion stems from the fact that Alan Gottlieb, who founded SAF and is chairman of CCRKBA, is prominently involved in the I-591 effort.

Larsen also said something to the Seattle P-I.com’s Joel Connelly that has been completely discredited, but still continues as an urban legend.

“Four in ten gun sales in our country take place without background checks to make sure that the purchaser is not a criminal or a danger to public safety,” Larsen said.

That 40 percent “guesstimate” comes from a tiny survey – fewer than 300 people participated – dating back more than two decades, before Brady Law background checks became the federal requirement. Factcheck.org has refuted this argument, and the Washington Post gave it three “Pinocchios,” which amounts to calling the claim bogus.

All this demonstrates, in the eyes of gun owners in Larsen’s district, is that he has suckered for two canards. They will remember that in November when his job will be up for a vote, as likely will be the dueling initiatives.

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