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With violent crime down, state lawmakers hit the gun range

State Sen. Pam Roach and her AR-15 rifle. Washington could use more like her, gun owners might suggest.
State Sen. Pam Roach and her AR-15 rifle. Washington could use more like her, gun owners might suggest.
Dave Workman

Yesterday’s “Legislative Shootout” at the Littlerock gun range south of Olympia, covered by KOMO, KING, The Gun Mag and this column, came just hours after the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms touted the latest preliminary crime figures from the FBI showing violent crime down while gun sales have climbed.

The FBI data, showing violent crime statistics for the first half of 2013, shows murders declined 6.9 percent from the same period in 2012, while aggravated assaults dropped by 6.6 percent. Robberies were down 1.8 percent and overall violent crime fell by 10.6 percent in non-metropolitan counties and 3.6 percent in metropolitan counties.

This prompted CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb to say in a press release yesterday that, “it is impossible to look at this pattern and not suggest that increased gun ownership just might be one contributing factor.”

“Gun prohibitionists would, of course, dismiss that suggestion as poppycock,” he observed, “but you can bet your life savings that if the data was reversed, and violent crime had risen, the gun control lobby would be rushing to every available microphone declaring that guns were to blame.”

But instead of talking about crime yesterday, several state lawmakers were talking trajectory, sight alignment, trigger squeeze and accuracy.

The shootout, now in its 26th year, was once again spearheaded by State Sen. Pam Roach (R-31st), to acquaint her fellow lawmakers, aides and members of state government with the upside of firearms at a time when a well-heeled group of Seattle-centric liberals are championing an 18-page gun control measure ostensibly aimed at so-called “Universal background checks.” It's a friendly competition that demonstrates the truth of a remark in the classic western "Shane," in which Alan Ladd tells Jean Arthur that a "gun is a tool...it's only as good or as bad as the man using it."

Roach showed up with a Colt AR-15 match rifle and once the gun was zeroed to punch tiny groups on a quarter-size bull’s eye at 25 yards, she allowed others to test their own skills. State Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35th) turned up with an ancient Marlin .22-caliber semi-auto rimfire that he keeps in his trunk, while Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-9th) brought his Browning shotgun and clobbered clays on the trap range. Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-24th) unlimbered an M-1 Garand. It was, indeed, a bipartisan event, which may explain why gun control measures emanating from Seattle do not get much traction these days in Olympia. Seattle Democrat Sen. Bob Hasegawa was at the range yesterday, and he told KING that he “had a blast.”

Prior to the range event, Roach hosted a briefing during which a panel of experts revealed the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue produced by hunting, fishing and recreational shooting in Washington. That same story translates nationwide in the billions of dollars, which supports business, provides revenue from license fees and special excise taxes, and most of all provides jobs.

Sen. Hargrove touched on the personal protection aspects of owning a firearm. In his rural Olympic Peninsula district, he noted, calls to law enforcement cannot be counted on to result in a swift arrival of a sheriff’s deputy.

“You’re pretty much on your own,” he observed, and not just when dealing with criminals, but four-legged predators. “Firearms are tools.”

By no small coincidence, an apparent self-defense shooting that occurred in Lake Stevens Tuesday evening is getting plenty of coverage on KING and KOMO. Reports indicate that two masked men entered the garage where they confronted the homeowner and a friend at gunpoint. Bad luck for the bad guys, because the homeowner’s friend was also armed and he promptly shot one of the suspects with the gun he retrieved from his car. The other bandit fled and Snohomish County lawmen are looking for him.

Had those two characters showed up at the homes of any of those legislators at yesterday’s gun range event, they might have gotten an equally noisy and painful reaction.

In the wake of yesterday’s Legislative Shootout, one might be left to ponder over how it is that gun control has gotten the attention it has this year. Nobody in the firearms community condones the misuse of firearms, but they’re not going to take the rap for crimes they didn’t commit, either. Hargrove’s vintage Garand was the “assault rifle” of its era, yet today it is an honored and highly prized collectible and long-range competition rifle. Roach’s AR-15, with its bipod, 20-inch stainless barrel and 16X scope would make a superb tool for varmint and predator control. Schoesler’s shotgun could bring down pheasants and other upland game all day long. And Sheldon’s scratched and dusty Marlin demonstrated flawless performance good enough to keep rabbits in the cooler.

Gun prohibitionists, however, would have the public think by eliminating these firearms, crime would somehow go away. Evidently they missed the story out of Oregon yesterday regarding 18-year-old Daniel Dorson, who pulled a five-year prison sentence for beating a 70-year-old man in Portland last July, using a skateboard as his weapon of choice.

Dorson’s victim, Larry Allen, was simply hosing off the sidewalk in front of a Portland outdoors store when the teenage thug attacked. His reason? According to the report on KOMO, Dorson told the court that he was “defending his own.”

Try legislating against that kind of mentality and see how progressive that is.

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