It is a perennial target of anti-gun liberal Democrat lawmakers, and once again Washington State’s model preemption law, on the books since 1983 and upheld in court, is in the crosshairs of a Seattle legislator.
State Rep. Nicole Macri (D-43rd District) announced during a Tuesday preview of gun control legislation at a gathering sponsored by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, “I’m really excited to be sponsoring a bill called Restoration of Local Authority. We know that change happens at all levels of government.” She and others are apparently emboldened by the complete Democrat control of the State Legislature and Governor’s office.
This translates to a dismantling of a state law that the firearms community considers the epitome of “common sense” that the gun prohibition lobby constantly talks about. Under the statute, the legislature has sole control over gun laws everywhere in the state. It precludes local regulation of firearms so that there is gun law uniformity from border to border. What is legal in Seattle is legal in Spokane. Here is what the statute says:
“The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”
Seattle liberals despise preemption. Anti-gunners would delight in creating a patchwork of local laws that conflict with one another, creating confusion among gun owners possibly to the point of discouraging legally-licensed citizens from exercising their state constitutional right to bear arms in self-defense.
“We know that for over 30 years,” Macri said in part, “our state preemption law has really hindered meaningful gun violence prevention at the city and county levels. Local cities really do know what’s best for them.”
While the video’s audio is not so good in some spots, there is no misunderstanding about what Macri and the Alliance are after. But they may discover that not all Democrats headed to Olympia in January share their opinion about firearms. Rural Democrats have shown no interest in meddling with the law or challenging the state constitutional right to bear arms provision, Article 1, Section 24. They will all face voters next November, and the state’s gun owners will be paying attention.
Washington’s preemption statute became a model for similar laws in other states over the past three decades. For the gun prohibition lobby to take down that law could open the door for similar efforts in other states, either by legislation or citizen initiative. Anti-gunners think big, while not necessarily thinking through. There are nearly 600,000 active concealed pistol licenses in the state. That could translate to legions of angry voters come November 2018.
On Thursday, another Seattle-based gun control lobbying group, Washington CeaseFire, is staging a walk along the east side of Green Lake to observe the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting. That runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Evergreen State anti-gunners would also like to ban so-called “assault rifles.” These are actually semi-auto modern sporting rifles, and they happen to be the most popular rifle in the country.
According to the annual FBI Uniform Crime Reports, rifles of any kind are used in a fraction of murders in any given year. In 2016, Washington State recorded 11 slayings with rifles, including the triple-victim incident in Mukilteo and the murders of five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington.
The Mukilteo shooting involved a modern sporting rifle. The Burlington incident did not. The latter shooting was committed with a Ruger 10/22, a .22-caliber rifle that is commonly owned by small game hunters, target shooters and has become a popular training rifle for young shooters.
In 2015, Washington saw only three people murdered with rifles of any kind, and in 2014, there were six murder victims killed with rifles.
The gun control crowd wants to subject people who buy modern sporting rifles to the same standards as handgun purchasers. They want to establish a minimum age of 21 to buy such a rifle and have them go through an “enhanced” background check.
The Mukilteo shooter passed a background check. The Burlington killer avoided such a check by taking, apparently without permission, his stepfather’s rifle.
The Las Vegas mass killer also passed numerous background checks. Other mass killers, including the man who shot up the Aurora, Colorado theater, did likewise.
Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook killer, didn’t bother with a background check. He murdered his mother and took her guns to the school afterwards. She had purchased all of her firearms legally, passing Connecticut’s background checks in the process.