Removal of a single sentence in Senate Bill 5737 — Washington’s proposed assault weapons ban (AWB) — only after Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat made a stink about it does not erase the anti-civil rights intent of the legislation or its authors.
Westneat’s column, which many in the gun rights community are quietly cheering, reveals that two sponsors, anti-gun Seattle Democrats Ed Murray and Adam Kline, did not read the original bill close enough before signing on. The now-removed tenet would have allowed law enforcement to enter the homes of private citizens without a warrant once each year to inspect how owners of so-called “assault weapons” were being stored.
The original language said this: “In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall ... safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”
Here is what one finds now: “In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing the assault weapon shall…Safely and securely store the assault weapon.”
To some Seattle Times readers that may appear as a mere oversight that has been fixed, but to others it may be taken as hard evidence of a deeper problem with proponents of gun prohibition. They reflexively support such measures with a knee-jerk pen stroke without knowing what they have just signed, except for the fact that it cracks down on guns and their owners.
It is the same Pavlovian pattern displayed by far too many Seattleites and liberals everywhere when they blindly vote for anyone with a “D” behind his or her name, indifferent to what may be in that person’s heart. In this case, Kline and Murray claim to have overlooked the offensive language, and has now vanished.
But the outrage cannot be so easily erased; outrage that the provision was included in the first place. Second Amendment activists are talking about it now at WaGuns and Northwest Firearms most energetically, as they are in the Times' reader feedback section. This column discussed SB 5737 and its language, and similar measures elsewhere, that could turn law-abiding citizens into felons.
That language remains, even though the warrantless search provision has been discarded.
Of particular interest in Westneat’s column, which is a pretty fair piece of journalism, is a passage noting the observation of self-confessed liberal Democrat Lance Palmer, a Seattle attorney. He admitted to Westneat, “But now I understand why my right-wing opponents worry about having to fight a government takeover.”
He further laments, “It’s exactly this sort of thing that drives people into the arms of the NRA.”
No, that’s not what “drives” people to the NRA. Law-abiding armed citizens aren’t “driven” to the NRA, they are drawn to the association and other organizations, including the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and Second Amendment Foundation, because there they find like-minded citizens who are not interested in trampling their civil rights, but instead sharing their freedom.
They are drawn to gun rights rallies in Olympia and elsewhere in growing numbers, and to gun shows in Puyallup, Monroe and elsewhere, perhaps as their ancestors were drawn to Lexington green and Concord Bridge when the government of their time moved to seize their arms.
SB 5737 is not the cause but the symptom of a greater problem discussed in this space many times before. Social bigotry against gun owners seems to know no limits, and whoever placed that search provision in the bill, whose other sponsor is equally anti-gun Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells — another Seattle Democrat — believed in his or her gut that gun owners apparently are not deserving of Fourth Amendment protections.
They demonize gun rights leaders, including NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and CCRKBA’s Alan Gottlieb, the latter who has traveled twice to Olympia in recent 12 days to testify. In one case, he was there supporting a bill — ironically sponsored by Kline — that cracks down on armed juvenile thugs. More recently, he testified against a “universal background check” measure that is far too invasive and contained provisions that are simply unworkable under existing federal law.
And now comes SB 5737, introduced hastily a few days ago, with a provision allowing unscheduled, warrantless searches of private homes by police. One suspects it was removed only because a reporter started asking questions.
And proponents of such measures have the audacity to accuse gun owners of being “unreasonable?”