Did Washington state gun control law fail?

glock-in-shadowsThursday’s shooting of a veteran Mount Vernon police officer might provide one more example of a gun control failure, because the man now being held in lieu of $1 million bail in connection with that incident has a lengthy criminal history that would preclude him from possessing firearms.

The suspect, identified as Ernesto Lee Rivas, 44, has had trouble with the law dating back almost 20 years, according to published reports. KIRO radio has reported that he spent several years in prison. He is being held for investigation of attempted first-degree murder, the Seattle Times said.

According to the newspaper, Rivas narrowly avoided being sent to prison for life in a Yakima County case in which he agreed to plead guilty to three charges while ten other charges were dismissed. He had participated in the abduction of four people over the apparent theft of a necklace, the newspaper said, 

The reason he entered that plea, according to published reports, was to avoid being imprisoned for life under the state’s “Three Strikes” law. That law was passed by citizen initiative in the early 1990s. Championed by gun rights organizations including the National Rifle Association and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), it was also a cause pushed by KVI radio host John Carlson. Many liberal activists opposed it, while they instead repeatedly line up behind gun control efforts.

The Associated Press is reporting that the suspect’s record includes eight felonies, and that he was “subject to a domestic violence protection order last year after the mother of his child accused him of stalking her.” People under domestic violence protection orders cannot legally possess firearms under state or federal law. According to the Seattle Times, in 2011, Rivas also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm.

A so-called “universal background check” initiative passed by Evergreen State voters more than two years ago after a $10 million-plus campaign was supposed to prevent guns falling into the wrong hands. But so far, only one person has apparently been charged for violating the requirements of Initiative 594, which was pushed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and wealthy elitists including anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

In December 2015, on the one-year anniversary of the effective date of I-594, the Bellevue-based CCRKBA pointed to several cases involving guns in the wrong hands that had not been prevented by passage of the measure. At the time, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb called I-594 a “trophy, a flimsy sham that has allowed anti-gunners to claim they did something about violent crime when in fact they haven’t accomplished anything.”

Since then, there was the shooting in Mukilteo in which the accused gunman did pass a background check. There was the fatal shooting of four people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, in which the alleged shooter apparently took a .22-caliber rifle from his stepfather without permission.

Earlier this year, Island County prosecutors charged an Oak Harbor man for violating the background check requirement for allegedly providing the handgun used to kill a teen.

While the initiative didn’t prevent that slaying, it opened the door for prosecuting someone for not having a background check done prior to transferring the pistol.

Now gun rights activists can wonder why, if the law doesn’t prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, while only inconveniencing law-abiding citizens, anyone would consider it effective. Many of those activists believe the initiative was really designed to just build records of law-abiding gun owners.

Coincidentally, gun prohibitionists will gather in Olympia Monday to push for yet another anti-gun law, this one a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” The “rally” is supposed to begin at 1:30 p.m. at the State Capitol. 


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