Congressional candidate talks sense on gun control

What’s going on over in Eastern Washington? According to the Tri-City Herald, a candidate who favors background checks for gun purchases was the winner of a straw poll for the vacant 4th Congressional District.

Eight Republicans are competing to replace the venerable Rep. Doc Hastings, who is retiring at the end of this calendar year. They squared off in a two-hour public forum last week.

Most of the pre-event publicity went to Clint Didier, a former NFL player and first team all-star for spouting ultra right-wing talking points. Didier drew attention for his plan to give away two free handguns and one military-style assault rifle – complete with high-capacity magazine – in a drawing for people who provide contact information on his web page.

That’s the kind of candidate we expected from those seeking to replace one of the more conservative members of Congress representing one of the most conservative districts in the state of Washington.

But here comes Kennewick attorney George Cicotte to shatter that stereotype.

During the forum, Cicotte criticized Didier and other far-right candidates for opposing universal background checks. He said, quite wisely, that we should keep guns out of the hands of people who are seriously mentally ill, and others who pose a public safety risk.

To make his point, Cicotte said, “I think all of you in this room would be happy if no one came in and started shooting us.”

After the forum at Richland High School, potential voters picked Cicotte as their favorite candidate. He got 126 votes, and his next two closest opponents each received 33. That’s a significant margin of victory.

Of course, his opponents included Didier, who said he would reduce the Department of Veterans Affairs from 320,000 to 5,000 employees and hand out health care vouchers. Apparently few people were buying that as an improvement to the current VA situation for our returning soldiers.

And there was also a Ritzville candidate who suspects that President Barack Obama is an illegal alien and compared him to Adolf Hitler. That kind of talk just makes us sigh deeply.

We find it shocking, and irresponsible, that none of the eight candidates so much as mentioned the botched cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation during their opening or closing comments. How can you not talk about that when you’re standing just miles from where half-century-old underground storage tanks are leaking toxic ooze into the soil and groundwater?

Or, the harmful effects the toxins might be having on Hanford workers?

Could Cicotte pull off a miracle and make it to the November general election? For the sake of any hope of reforming this nation’s gun laws, we hope so. And we hope he’ll speak out about Hanford, too.