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Washington CeaseFire chief admits tough laws didn’t stop Isla Vista

CeaseFire's Ralph Fascitelli admitted Thursday that gun laws couldn't prevent the Santa Barbara tragedy.
Dave Workman

In a stunning acknowledgement Thursday morning during the last half-hour of KVI’s John Carlson show, the head of Washington CeaseFire said that there probably is no law that could have prevented the Santa Barbara spree killing.

CeaseFire President Ralph Fascitelli stated that, “I don’t know of anything…that could have been done to prevent this tragedy in Santa Barbara.” It is an admission that could come back to haunt him and the gun prohibition lobby later this year as the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility pushes Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure with a so-called “universal background check” at its core.

Fascitelli said he also wants Washington’s “shall issue” concealed carry law to revert to a “may issue” scenario with family interviews before a carry license is issued. He also asserted that the reason people visit gun shows is so they can purchase firearms without background checks.

This came at about the same time that Simon Astaire, a friend and spokesperson for the parents of alleged Isla Vista killer Elliot Rodger was on NBC’s Today show, reading a statement on their behalf. In that statement, the parents indicated they are more saddened for their son’s victims than their son, and they vowed to take steps to see that such a thing never happens again.

“We are crying in pain for the victims and their families,” the statement read. “It breaks out hearts on a level that we didn’t think possible. The feeling of knowing that it was our son’s actions that caused the tragedy can only be described as hell on earth. It is now our responsibility to do everything we can to help avoid this happening to any other family. Not only to avoid more innocence destroyed, but also to identify and deal with the mental issues that drove our son to do what he did.”

But Fascitelli continued to blame guns, while acknowledging that more needs to be done with mental health. Carlson contended that if a law had been in place to allow the institutionalization of the 22-year-old alleged killer, he would not have been on the streets last Friday night.

At least three times during the conversation, Fascitelli admitted that stringent gun laws did not prevent the Isla Vista attack. Six people were killed and several others injured

“California has some of the strictest laws in the country on gun violence,” he said. “I don’t think that there’s any law that would have prevented the tragedy in Santa Barbara.”

Yet “universal background checks” are being pandered by I-594 supporters as the means to prevent the kind of tragedy in Isla Vista, even though three of the six victims were stabbed to death. Rodger passed three California background checks and waited through three different waiting periods to get the three 9mm handguns he owned. He used legal ten-round magazines, demonstrating that banning so-called “high capacity assault clips” also does not deter or prevent a determined killer.

While Rodger did not have a carry permit, and he illegally transported the three loaded handguns in his car, Fascitelli wants to replace Washington’s shall-issue law governing concealed pistol licenses for a “may issue” discretionary scheme. This would, he suggested, include having police interview members of an applicant’s family to determine whether a person should be able to legally carry a handgun.

Standing in Fascitelli’s way may be the state constitutional right-to-bear-arms provision, which clearly states that “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired…” Washington has one of the oldest concealed carry laws in the nation, dating back to 1935.

Ultimately, Fascitelli said tougher gun laws are only part of a solution that must also include better mental health care and better training for police. However, while insisting that the solution is “more complicated” and “you can’t make it simplistically,” he was still arguing for tougher gun laws which, in itself, seemed simplistic as well.