Relying on Seattle Police Department data, Patch.com reported that the Jet City “tallied more homicides (last) year than any year in more than a decade,” an interesting revelation considering that passage of an anti-gun-rights initiative, largely supported by Seattle voters, was supposed to reduce murder and mayhem.
There were, according to the article, 31 homicides in Seattle last year. However, preliminary data from the Brennan Center says 33 people died last year in the city in homicides. In 2017, Seattle saw 26 murders (while KOMO News reported 27), which was also a jump from the 18 slayings in 2016, according to Seattle Police data.
Cases outlined by the Patch.com story indicate that at least seven of these slayings were due to stabbing. About a dozen were shooting victims, and the rest didn’t list the cause of death.
When I-594 was passed in November 2014—requiring so-called “universal background checks”—it was supposed to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. On July 30, 2016, Allen Christopher Ivanov fatally shot three people and wounded a fourth at a party in Mukilteo. He used a rifle he legally purchased, after passing a background check. During a court hearing, his attorney “questioned the ease of him buying such a dangerous weapon,” according to a report at the time from KING-TV News. The assertion was astonishing to Second Amendment activists, who noted that thousands of other people have purchased firearms after passing background checks, and they haven’t harmed anybody.
On Sept. 23 that same year—almost two years after I-594 was passed—Arcan Cetin murdered five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington. He didn’t bother with a background check because he reportedly stole the rifle from a family member. He confessed to the killings and in April 2017, he hanged himself in his jail cell.
Exploiting the Mukilteo shooting, and the mass shooting incident at a Florida high school last year, anti-gunners pushed through Initiative 1639, which strips Second Amendment rights from young adults ages 18-20 to purchase and own so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles.” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says that’s a firearm that really does not exist, but is broadly defined by the initiative language to include every semi-auto rifle ever manufactured.
Those eight slayings in 2016 contributed to the anomaly figure of 11 rifle-related murders in Washington State in a single year. The number is typically below five, and in 2017, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, there was a single rifle-related murder in the state, suggesting that an attempt to ban semi-auto rifles might be ineffective as a prevention measure.
“I was in the U.S. Army. My rifle was never called an ‘assault weapon.’ They passed this initiative to create that definition to include every semi auto in the state.”—Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich
Now, I-1639 is being challenged in federal district court by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association on Second and Fourteenth Amendment grounds, and the Commerce Clause. A majority of county sheriffs have announced they will not enforce provisions of I-1639 and five county commissions have passed resolutions opposing the law’s enforcement. Knezovich contended that a major reason anti-gunners pushed I-1639 was to create a definition of a “semiautomatic assault rifle” as a prelude to eventually try banning such firearms.
Several conclusions might be drawn from all of this. While increasingly restrictive gun laws can’t be blamed for the uptick in violence, those laws didn’t prevent the increase. The number of stabbing deaths demonstrates that people will continue killing one another, no matter what impairments are placed on the exercise of constitutionally-protected rights by law-abiding citizens.
Seattle has a remarkably low number of homicides for a city its size. Washington, D.C. and nearby Baltimore, Maryland have far more slayings, and they have very restrictive gun laws. Indeed, in 2017, Baltimore racked up 343 murders, while the entire state of Washington posted 228 slayings, of which 134 involved firearms.
Washington State, however, has well over 600,000 active concealed pistol licenses, something that at least one piece of legislation is trying to curtail.
Senate Bill 5174 places a new hurdle over which CPL applicants must leap. It’s a training requirement that includes a minimum of eight hours of instruction on:
- Basic firearms safety rules
- Firearms and children including safe storage of firearms and talking to children about firearms safety
- Firearms and suicide prevention
- Safe storage of firearms to prevent unauthorized access and use
- Safe handling of firearms
- State and federal firearms laws, including prohibited firearms transfers
- State laws pertaining to the use of deadly force for self-defense
- Techniques for avoiding a criminal attack and how to manage a violent confrontation, including conflict resolution
- Live-fire shooting exercises on a firing range that include a demonstration by the applicant of safe handling of, and shooting proficiency with, each firearm that the applicant is applying to be licensed to carry
This training “must be sponsored by a federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency, a college, a university, a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training, or a firearms training school with instructors certified by a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training.”
The Washington State Patrol will be responsible for prescribing “the form and manner of documentation to be provided to an applicant for use as proof of completion of a recognized firearms safety training program.”
There is nothing wrong with firearms safety training. Competent instruction with firearms is always a good thing. There are many fine private training academies that offer solid firearms training, and the National Rifle Association has a network of volunteer instructors. However, there are certain problems with mandated training that hundreds of thousands of Evergreen State residents will be facing, and questioning. The first obvious question is who is going to pay for this? If the fee is to be paid by each CPL holder, that just might be viewed as the equivalent of a poll tax.
If the armed citizens pay, who gets the money, the instructors or the state? How much would people be charged to take this course and is it tax deductible? Could such a fee be considered a tax on the exercise of an enumerated right?
Are there any instructors currently certified to teach this course? Where in each community will the course be offered? How many days a week? Where are the shooting ranges in each community for the live-fire portion? Who pays for ammunition and targets?
According to Article 1, Section 24 of the state constitution, the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired. Does all of this sound like an impairment?