Two county sheriffs and two local police chiefs in Washington State’s Tri-Cities area have just said “no” to a controversial gun control proposal being pushed by anti-gun state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, according to the Tri-City Herald.
Coincidentally, the story appeared as hearings on two gun control bills, one dealing with licensing and other restrictions on so-called “assault weapons,” were held in Olympia, the state capitol. The hearing may be viewed here.
The story quoted Benton County Sheriff Steve Keane, Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond, Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner and Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg, who all disagree with the attorney general, “for different reasons,” according to the newspaper.
Ferguson wants to ban the so-called “assault weapons” and large capacity ammunition magazines. A fallback measure, HB 1387, was one of the bills discussed by supporters and opponents during a Thursday afternoon public hearing.
According to the newspaper, Sheriff Keane put things in perspective when he noted, “I have not personally found any objective evidence that suggests an actual reduction of violent gun crime simply by outlawing a certain type of weapon, magazine capacity, or caliber of bullet. In fact, cities with the strictest gun control laws have some of the highest gun violence anywhere in the United States.”
That law enforcement perspective might have turned some heads during the public hearing, which attracted hundreds of people on both sides of the issue. It appeared, however, that gun owners greatly outnumbered gun prohibitionists. The turnout was so large that people were put in an overflow room in the basement of the House office building, and then in the public gallery areas of the House chamber.
Prior to that hearing anti-gun Gov. Jay Inslee, the former congressman who quite his seat in Congress to run for governor in 2012, had asserted at a press event that there is a “loophole” in the law that doesn’t require background checks for “assault weapons,” according to the Bellingham Herald.
But that doesn’t square with the facts. Under Initiative 594, passed in 2014, a background check is required for every firearm transfer in the state, even a private sale or loan of a firearm, including semi-automatic modern sporting rifles.
During the hearing, before the House Judiciary Committee, Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe asked this question: “Should someone be able to walk into a sporting goods store and with no questions asked, walk out with a high velocity, high capacity weapon and a whole bunch of bullets?”
Under the law, that’s not possible. Background checks involve filling out a federal Form 4473, which asks several questions. Failure to answer any of those questions stops the transaction. Providing a false answer is a federal felony.
According to the Tri-City newspaper, Sheriff Keane noted, “My biggest concern with any gun control legislation is if it violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Many of our citizens in Benton County are deeply concerned about any possible infringement in this regard.”
Second Amendment activists are convinced that if the legislation fails, it will provide an excuse for the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a Seattle-based gun prohibition lobbying group, to launch another initiative, this one designed to force gun owners to license and register their guns, or give them up.