If it were any issue other than firearms, this morning’s press conference involving what a press release described as “Dozens of interfaith and denominational faith leaders—under the banner of the Faith Action Network (FAN)” would be vilified for crossing the invisible line of separation of church and state.
They gathered to threaten the State Legislature with an initiative to restrict the rights of gun owners with so-called “universal background checks” as a panacea to violent crime. They joined with the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), talking about Sandy Hook and Café Racer; neither of which would have been prevented by the legislation they were proposing, and they know it.
The subject is already creating reader feedback in the Seattle Times and Seattle P-I.com.
Sandy Hook was the work of a crazy person who murdered his mother and used her guns, obtained with a background check. Café Racer was committed by a crazy person who passed a background check. For good measure, in attendance at this morning’s event was Cheryl Stumbo, a survivor of the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting, committed by Naveed Haq who passed two background checks.
The way these religious leaders, WAGR and Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick seem to be approaching the issue is to give the public the impression that no background checks are being conducted on firearms transactions. That is simply not true.
The fallback argument is that there is a “gun show loophole” through which criminals can stream into gun shows and buy all kinds of firearms. The Washington Arms Collectors only allows gun sales to members, and WAC members pass a background check as part of the membership process. And it must be added that none of these crimes, Sandy Hook, Cafe Racer or the Jewish Federation shooting, involved guns purchased at gun shows.
Joel Connelly, liberal political columnist for the on-line Seattle P-I.com, alluded to WAGR and FAN as “gun safety advocates” when they are nothing of the kind. They are gun control advocates and gun prohibitionists in very thin disguise.
Since proponents of this new initiative have yet to produce any language with details of what they will demand, it is too early to pass judgment. However, as Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms told Examiner Monday, “the Devil is in the details, and proponents of this kind of measure have never been friendly to gun owners.”
For example, would sales, gifts or loans of firearms between family members and/or friends require a background check? Would a firearms instructor – a real gun safety advocate – violate the law by handing a gun to a student, either in class or on the range?
The gun prohibition lobby will try to gather 350,000 signatures on the initiative for presentation to the Legislature in January. According to Page 6 of the state Initiatives & Referenda manual from the Washington Secretary of State, “Initiatives to the Legislature must be filed within 10 months prior to the next regular session of the Legislature, and the signature petition sheets must be submitted not less than 10 days before such regular session of the Legislature.”
On page 4 of the same manual, the process for initiatives to the Legislature is found, and it says that, “Initiatives to the Legislature, if certified, are submitted to the Legislature at its regular session each January. Once submitted, the Legislature must take one of the following three actions:
- The Legislature can adopt the initiative as proposed, in which case it becomes law without a vote of the people;
- The Legislature can reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative, in which case the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election; or
- The Legislature can propose a different measure dealing with the same subject, in which case both measures must be placed on the next state General Election ballot.
To qualify to the ballot or Legislature, the sponsor of either type of initiative must first circulate the complete text of the proposal among voters and obtain a number of legal voter signatures equal to eight (8) percent of the number of votes cast for the office of Governor at the last regular gubernatorial election”
The earliest an initiative could be on the ballot would be November 2014.
Between now and then, and most likely long before then, gun owners in various congregations will have a chance to chat with their pastors, priests and rabbis about their involvement in this kind of political activity.