In his annual “State of the State” address to the Washington Legislature, Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee spent a moment bragging about the gun control measures enacted over the past few years, while in a moment of irony, Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib ducked the speech allegedly out of concern over the policy that allows legally-armed citizens to enter the House public gallery.
The Kitsap Sun and virtually every other news agency reported Habib’s decision, and gun rights activists are taking notice.
Most prominently, Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said in a prepared statement that Habib “insulted every law-abiding gun owner in the state,” with his absence.
“In particular,” Gottlieb said, “he should apologize to the more than 608,000 citizens who are licensed to carry concealed. These men and women not only carry for their own safety and the safety of their families, but for the safety of people like Habib, who mask their anti-gun extremism behind concern about ‘policy.’”
He said Habib had shifted from being a public servant to bring “a poster child for paranoia.” Gottlieb also suggested that if Habib is so fearful of the public, he “should resign.”
Habib, who is also a Democrat., is blind. Still, a few years ago, he attended the annual “Legislative Shootout” near the State Capitol in Olympia, where he fired a .22-caliber rifle with the assistance of an instructor.
Acknowledging that there was “no specific threat to me,” and no such threat to anyone else to his knowledge, the anti-gun lieutenant governor still seemed fearful of the potential for an armed citizen to be in one of the public viewing galleries in the House chamber.
For his part, Inslee—who appears to be preparing to run for the White House in 2020—waited until 49 minutes into his address to declare, “While too many in D.C. remain in the grip of the NRA, we are the state that stands up for common sense gun safety reform.”
“We have closed background check loopholes,” Inslee stated, “we have banned bump stocks, we have approved protective orders that keep guns away from people in crisis. And there’s more we can do this session.
And at the same time, we’re making sure students don’t worry more about bullying or gun violence than they do about their algebra homework.”
His comments drew loud applause from the galleries, where there were apparently many gun prohibition activists who have supported a series of gun control initiatives, including one passed last November that is currently being challenged in federal court.
According to the Kitsap Sun, the office of Bernard Dean, chief House clerk, said via email that “Washington state law is clear: Properly licensed concealed carry permit holders are allowed to carry concealed weapons on the state capitol campus, including the galleries.”
Habib and Inslee just might take a lesson from Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) who showed up to present legislation to the privileges and Elections Committee while packing a sidearm. She was carry a .38 Special revolver in a belt holster, apparently in reaction to a Monday incident during which immigration rights activists “confronted” State Sen. Dick Black, a Loudoun Republican.
She told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “Sometimes it’s a deterrent for over-exuberant folks. Unfortunately, in the General Assembly we see the good, we see the bad, we see all types of things. It’s just for personal safety, quite honestly.”