U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- A controversial two-day “public health summit” held near Seattle typifies the one-sided approach toward solving the nation’s so-called “gun violence” dilemma because the discussion over two evening sessions failed to include important representation from specialists on gun safety: gun owners and representatives from any firearm rights group.
Elsewhere around the country, whenever the news media reports on the gun issue, almost invariably gun control groups are labeled “gun safety” advocates while the Second Amendment community is referred to as “the gun lobby.” This apparently justifies the exclusion of gun owners from discussions that ultimately affect their rights.
And making guns a “public health issue” has become a cornerstone of the gun prohibition crusade on the national and state levels. What is currently happening in Seattle is a microcosm.
As noted by the West Seattle Herald, the summit, held over the course of two evening sessions in White Center, a suburban community immediately south of Seattle, saw representatives from the King County Department of Public Health, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Moms Demand Action and “community leaders working with youth, gun violence survivors, and elected officials from King County, Seattle, and surrounding communities.”
Missing from the agenda were certified firearms instructors, gun dealers, range operators and representatives from such groups as the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, or the National Rifle Association. Washington State gun rights activists were suspicious from the outset because the national headquarters for both SAF and CCRKBA are located just a few miles away in the City of Bellevue. There are at least two popular indoor shooting ranges and gun stores within easy travel distance to the summit location, as well.
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb summed it up tersely.
“This isn’t about public health,” he said. “This is all about politics.”
The Seattle area has become a hotbed of gun prohibition politics over the past five years, largely fueled by wealthy anti-gunners who, according to Second Amendment activists, have “weaponized their wealth” in an effort to turn the right to bear arms into a tightly-regulated privilege.
The King County Board of Health organized the event. Gottlieb, who also chairs the CCRKBA, told a reporter from local NBC affiliate KING 5 News, “They are trying to make gun ownership a communicable disease, and it is really kind of stupid.”
Earlier in the week, SAF launched a national campaign to end so-called “gun-free zones.” It not only raised the hackles of the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility but served notice to anti-gunners across the map that just because the National Rifle Association currently appears to be in disarray, the gun rights movement overall remains aggressive and is maintaining its momentum.
According to the Health Board’s website, “In the absence of federal and state action on common-sense gun safety laws, King County must take action to protect our residents from gun violence. Much of this work must include shedding light on the impact firearms have on the health and safety of King County residents, while taking steps to limit their impact.”
The proposed “gun safety” action plan agenda includes these items:
- Require disclosure of information on health risks related to firearms. At retail locations, signs will be posted at entrances and where firearms are sold. At ranges, they will be posted at the entrance and where used. Signs will be available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Somali, Chinese, Korean, Ukrainian, Amharic and Punjabi on the Public Health – Seattle & King County website.
- Require gun owners to securely store firearms and ammunition at all times, on all premises. (There is no definition of “secure storage” in the plan.)
- Work with youth and young adults to assess and provide recommendations for reducing gun violence that they experience.
- Require that the King County Sheriff’s Office destroy working forfeited weapons, including those that have been turned in by owners.
- Establish a work group tasked with developing gun safety and gun violence prevention strategies based on proven public health models.
Alarming to gun owners was this footnote: “These proposals are just the beginning.”
This effort is spearheaded by King County Councilman Joe McDermott, a former state legislator and one-time congressional candidate who has pushed gun control in the past. When he ran to succeed former Congressman Jim McDermott (no relation), his campaign literature included this statement: “For too long, politicians in Washington DC have kowtowed to the National Rifle Association. It is past time that we pass tough background checks, ban military style assault weapons plaguing our communities and once and for all hold gun manufacturers liable for the over thirty thousand deaths they cause in our country every year.”
So, when McDermott recently asserted to the Seattle Times that he had no legislative goals, rights advocates including Gottlieb were incredulous, and not without reason.
The county health board’s website offers action plan goals, and this statement:
“We expect and demand they (the Legislature) use their power to save lives, or at the very least, get out of the way and give us the local control to do it ourselves. If and when the state preemption law is repealed by the Washington State Legislature, the King County Gun Safety Action Plan will immediately move to:
- Ban the sale and possession of semi-automatic, high velocity weapons
- Ban the sale and possession of high capacity ammunition magazines
- Raise the age to 21 for all firearm purchases and possession
- Establish a waiting period before taking possession of a firearm after purchase
- Require firearm safety training before taking possession of a firearm after purchase
Critics contend that this is the same “wish list” that Democrats and their gun control supports have been pushing in the Legislature in Olympia. High on that list is repeal of state preemption, which has been the law in Washington for more than 35 years. This statute has served as a model followed by other states in crafting their own preemption laws. Anti-gunners would like nothing better than to strike down the model.
There is no small irony in all of this. Gottlieb, in a conversation with Ammoland, noted that Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO) – founded some years ago by pro-gun physicians – is now under the SAF umbrella and is an important project. One of DRGO’s main interests is what it calls “boundary violations,” when doctors begin asking patients about firearms in their homes. This happens all over the country.
Gottlieb personally has become a leader in a suicide prevention effort in Washington State. Working with the Forefront program at the University of Washington, he has brought together gun safety experts including retailers and range operators, to work with pharmacists and others to reduce suicides in Washington State.
About Dave Workman