The Seattle Times has predictably endorsed another gun control measure — Initiative 1491, the so-called “extreme risk protection order” proposal — and it has ignited a furious, and at some points, nasty debate among readers.
Second Amendment advocates see this as just one more effort to erode a civil right. Gun prohibitionists may see it the same way while masking their motives behind a plea for public safety. To understand their positions, read the editorial and then read the comments, more than 300 at this writing.
I-1491, according to the Times’ editorial, “would create court procedure to keep guns away from people who are a threat to themselves or others.” But does it, really, do that? This is the question that splits the atom.
The editorial begins, “Washington state has several laws to take guns away from people in certain circumstances, as part of civil-protection orders in situations like domestic violence.
“But those laws set too high a bar for immediate action when people are trying to save someone who is suicidal or stop someone who has made violent threats against friends or family members.”
Critics contend that this comes from an editorial board that has no problem with chipping away at gun rights; any plan that comes along to strip more people of their firearms rights is acceptable, even encouraged. Proponents want crazy, dangerous people disarmed. (There is a suspicion that anti-gunners look at all gun owners as crazy or dangerous.)
The key issue is “due process,” mentioned in the Fifth and 14th Amendments, not the Second Amendment.
Proponents of this measure have raised about $3.5 million so far and keep begging for more. They’re the same people who backed Initiative 594 two years ago, the so-called “universal background check” measure that apparently has not been enforced. It’s just there. It is what critics call “trophy legislation,” adopted to intimidate and inconvenience law-abiding gun owners, build a database of those owners and serve as a fund raising symbol for more restrictive gun measures.
They spent more than $10.4 million to buy that election. Critics suggest that these people think the constitution is for sale, and because they have the money, they will buy it one election at a time.
Next year, it appears that a ban on so-called “assault weapons” is on the agenda, though there is some suspicion that the real target in Washington is the state’s 33-year-old preemption statute. That law is a thorn in the side of anti-gun municipal governments, as they have in Seattle. Those urban gun prohibitionists want to set up their own gun control laws, and despise the state statute that makes it impossible.
If gun owners want to stop this, they will need to vote. Many believe the reason I-594 passed is because not enough gun owners voted in 2014. If Washington gun owners want to set an example for the rest of the country’s gun owners, this is their opportunity.