Publication of a 3,500-word report on dementia and guns “in Washington State and elsewhere” over the weekend in the Seattle Times seemed, to more than one reader, to have been curiously timed, and apparently tilted, to support a recently-submitted gun control initiative filed by a Seattle-based gun control lobbying group supported by wealthy elitists.
The story came from Kaiser Health News, and was originally published back on June 25. Why the wait to re-publish in a Seattle newspaper?
This one focused on a troubling problem for some people: what to do with someone’s firearms when an individual is diagnosed with Alzheimer disease. It is a problem for some families of gun owners — the late Charlton Heston, former president of the National Rifle Association was diagnosed with the disease — but is it just possible that reader “anchorclanker” put this story in its true perspective when writing, “Another day, another scare piece about firearms. What else is new, huh?
“Personally,” the comment continued, “I’m much more concerned about an overzealous and mistrustful government destroying my liberty than I am about getting capped by some codger.”
Initiative 1639 is the third gun control measure in Washington State bankrolled by the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility. The first was I-594, pushed ostensibly to keep guns out of the wrong hands by requiring so-called “universal background checks” on every gun transfer with a few exceptions for immediate family members. But in its aftermath, the Evergreen State has seen two high-profile multiple homicides, in Mukilteo at a teen party and at the Cascade Mall in Burlington. Shootings and killings continue in Seattle and other Washington cities.
I-1639 was advertised as a “safe schools” measure, raising the minimum age for purchasing a semi-auto rifle from 18 to 21 years, requiring training, a 10-day waiting period and, critics say, essentially defining any semi-auto rifle as an “assault weapon,” even commonly-owned .22-caliber arms as the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin Model 60.
While stories like this seem popular with newspaper editors, by contrast there has been relatively little publicity about a court ruling the other day in Ohio. There, a judge ruled that a ban on so-called “bump stocks” by the City of Columbus is illegal, as reported by the Outdoor Wire. That ruling came in a lawsuit against the ban by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation and Ohioans for Concealed Carry.
The judge ruled that the regulation violated Ohio’s preemption statute and granted a permanent injunction. An appeal would not be surprising, because cities don’t like preemption statutes.
Seattle and Everett are pushing that envelope right now, adopting local gun control ordinances on “safe storage” and reporting lost or stolen guns to police within 24 hours. These are clearly challenges to Washington’s 35-year-old preemption law.
Buried in the dementia story is an observation by Dr. Arthur Przebinda, with Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation, and it also adds perspective to the story, and to any other such report that might appear between now and the November election on the gun measure.
Przebinda bluntly says that discussing the possibility of a dementia-related shooting is a “bloody shirt-waving tactic that’s used to stir emotions to advance support for a particular policy endpoint.”
And that, according to Second Amendment advocates, is what drives gun control campaigns like the one in Washington: Emotion.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, rifles of any kind are used in a fraction of homicides in any given year, maybe 2-3 percent. In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, only 11 of the 127 firearm-related slayings involved rifles, and that included the eight people who died at Mukilteo and Burlington, so 2016 might be an anomaly.
As Dr. Przebinda explained to the writers at Kaiser, “the data is what should be driving our policy discussion, not fear or fear mongering. It’s bad science.”
And he also said something else that should alarm not only gun owners but all civil rights advocates. He suggested that researchers who raise the dementia issue are “seeking ways to disarm as many people as possible.”