Send gun control to the voters

The OlympianMarch 27, 2013 

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, voters blasted the 22nd Legislative District legislators during a recent town hall meeting over the Legislature’s failure to pass any meaningful measures so far this session to reduce gun violence.

Given the outsized influence of the NRA over the Legislature, it would be surprising only if gun control legislation did emerge.

The failure of the 2013 Legislature to stop convicted felons from arming themselves at gun shows – in other words, requiring background checks on all firearms sales – wasn’t for lack of trying by Sen. Karen Fraser, Rep. Sam Hunt and Rep. Chris Reykdal.

The blame belongs on members of the House and Senate who governed under the spell of NRA lobbyists.

Even a House bill requiring someone under a protection order – because they are a physical threat to another person – to surrender their firearms and prohibiting that person from purchasing a gun, will almost certainly die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The New York Times reported this week that Washington is one of many states lacking firearm surrender laws, despite the fact that intimate partner homicides more often than not involve a gun. The newspaper found that more than 50 people under protection orders in our state since 2011 were arrested on one of several firearm violations.

Making it more difficult for felons to buy guns and limiting access to guns by those threatening physical violence to others surely does not violate the Second Amendment.

But if the Legislature and the NRA remain deaf to growing public sentiment for tighter gun controls, then perhaps it’s time for a citizens initiative. If the polls are accurate, an initiative on next fall’s general election ballot requiring universal background checks would pass with strong voter approval.

In the meantime, the NRA should stop its zero tolerance position for any rational changes to gun ownership and stop its fear mongering and threatening behavior against legislators.

In the end, no one likes a bully. And when the bully stands alone in a crowd, the bully is not really a threat anymore.

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