Washington State Firearms Attorney In Spokane

Several years ago, we were in Federal Way, Washington. Our law practice focused on firearms related issues in Washington state. The concept of a firearms attorney in Washington state was fairly new. The Federal Way Mirror asked me to write a column in the local newspaper. The Mirror published Firearms lawyer column for four years. The column wasContinue reading “Washington State Firearms Attorney In Spokane”

FBI Clears Way for Restoration of Gun Rights After DV Conviction in Washington State

Until recently, anyone that had been convicted of a Fourth Degree Assault determined to be domestic violence in Washington State was in a tough position because the NICS did not recognize a Restoration of Rights for Washington state non-felony domestic violence convictions. State and federal laws on the subject of domestic violence and gun rightsContinue reading “FBI Clears Way for Restoration of Gun Rights After DV Conviction in Washington State”

Restoring Your Right to Keep & Bear Arms

You can petition the court to restore your right to own firearms by representing yourself or obtaining an attorney. We can provide some links that will help you to obtain the forms but there are some pitfalls. For instance, at the present time, the federal government (BATF & NICS) will not recognize rights restored byContinue reading “Restoring Your Right to Keep & Bear Arms”

King County Lawyers Discuss Washington State Gun Law

https://www.kcba.org/news…D=article21.htm

Reprinted from King County Bar Association Bar Bulletin (September, 2011).

I read KCBA President Joe Bringman’s message in the Bar Bulletin (August, 2011 President’s Page). Many lawyers have the impression that the KCBA is taking political positions that conflict with the conservative principles which animate more than a few lawyers. The President’s comments related to state preemption of local gun control efforts might be commendable as an opinion piece or an expression of his personal opinion. Nevertheless, the fact that he was writing as President to KCBA members raises the issue of whether the President’s Page is an appropriate venue from which to advocate taking a questionable position regarding RCW 9.41.290.

Consider how many lawyers and even judges have CPLs and ask how those of us that “bear arms” as a normal part of our daily routine would be able to navigate our way down the freeway if we have to research the laws of every municipality into which we enter. If it is a challenge for lawyers that are experts when it comes to legal research then what about the non-lawyer that chooses to carry? If judges and lawyers adopt the approach that each man or woman that bears arms also bears the risks of running afoul of a patchwork of confusing laws, the chilling effect will hobble any meaningful exercise of our rights under the U.S. Constitution and SECTION 24 of the Washington State Constitution:

RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.

If I go to a park in Seattle using public transportation would I check my gun in with the driver before I get on the bus? If I am walking around Seattle, will the City provide a lock box outside each entrance to a city park the way the courts are required to do by statute? And what about when I park in a municipally owner parking while stopping in a city that has decided to enact legislation prohibiting firearms in vehicles parked in municipal parking lots? The unpredictability and chaos will lead to utter disrespect for the law.

The impact of any potential modification concerning RCW 9.41.290 collides with common sense Local governments are not best situated to determine how to ensure the safety of their citizens. Local lawmakers react to local political pressures often without considering ramifications that involve travelers, visitors and business people that may be carrying large amounts of money with no place to safely store a weapon when they enter an area that restricts firearms. Many states have similar preemption laws and are safer than cities like Chicago where most residents have been prohibited from keeping guns- even in their homes- and the murder rate is out of control. Enacting the President’s proposals for Washington State would create legal chaos and make us less safe!

RCW 9.41.290 states:

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

Given the harm all too frequently associated with statist theoreticians, it’s time that we ask whether the benefits provided by our state’s firearms preemption law outweigh any short term political advantages to be gained by modifying state law.

A few years back, the Bar Bulletin published a great article entitled PRYING THE SECOND AMENDMENT’S MEANING FROM THE FOUNDERS’ COLD DEAD HANDS. The well written legal analysis of the Second Amendment was written by a young attorney that started out with negative assumptions about the Second Amendment but she discovered that its provisions are actually very meaningful.

There are presently lawsuits pending in Illinois that will almost certainly establish a right to carry a firearm in many public places. The Washington State Constitution is unequivocal in its legal protection for gun owners and those of us that bear arms. Proposals to modify firearms preemption are actually a giant step back to the patch work laws that have worked to completely deprive many people in Illinois from enjoying a right that residents of most states take for granted; i.e., the right to simply possess a firearm within their own homes!

Things have changed a lot since most of us were in law school. One reason to think soberly and clearly about such proposals is because, as lawyers, we are more likely to be threatened with violence than most people. The threats to judges and prosecutors in particular have been escalating according to a study by the Washington State Board for Judicial Administration (BJA).

See article.

There is no evidence that armed citizens are creating a threat by wearing pistols in public places and a concurring opinion in the NORDYKE V KING case (Ninth Circuit, 2009) contained a strong comment as to how effectively the Second Amendment protects Americans from the promiscuous carnage that occurred during the attacks in Mumbai by terrorists armed with automatic rifles. A few guns at the youth camp in Norway could also have saved many lives. An unarmed officer in uniform was one of the victims in the early stages of that attack.

More lawyers should get involved in the full debate about guns. The issues are serious and the public needs the rigorous analysis lawyers can provide on the subject of gun law, not the kind of superficial analyses that politicians and news media often produce.

Preemption: Washington Cities Violate State Gun Law

Attorneys for various municipalities around Washington State have issued legal opinions that RCW 9.41.290 “only applies to the regulation of firearms themselves” and “excludes regulations that only secondarily affect firearms… that do not embody a punitive regulation”. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office issued a legal opinion last week that thoroughly rebuts such opinions based on Cherry v Metro and another case that dealt with certain narrow issues applied to a venue for a gun show leased from the City of Sequim, washington.

We previously pointed out in a letter dated May 22, 2008, that the so-called “legal authority” on which many jurisdictions are relying is contrary to any reasonable analysis of the law. Incidentally, the City of Federal Way is now in full compliance with state law as of January 8, 2009.

The legislature has put cities and counties in Washington on notice that local governments’ hands are tied when it comes to restricting our gun rights- even inside the building where the jails and police stations are located. If the City can’t disarm you inside City Hall, how can it force you to be defenseless in the City’s Parks? Keep in mind- cities can only enact those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law.”

There was recently a mass shooting in another state where the attacker shot and killed a uniformed police officer as a prelude to killing several other people during a City Hall meeting. Our state’s legislature has decided that the solution to such scenarios is not to disarm the people but to make sure that many honest people will be armed when violence occurs.

The key case is Cherry v Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, a case in which a Metro employee was fired for bringing a gun to work. The folks that seek to repeal or subvert the state preemption law assert that Cherry is authority for disarming you when you cross onto City property. Despite such bold assertions, the Cherry case just stands for the premise that if you work as a municipal employee, you may be prohibited from carrying a weapon while on the job.

There are presently cities all over Washington State receiving legal advice based on legal reasoning that has already been repudiated by every jurisdiction that has honestly looked at the state preemption law and the cases. The reason they get bad advice advice is because many politicians in our state of Washington, like Mayor Greg Nickels in Seattle, don’t like the state preemption law and have announced publicly that they want it repealed.

Lawyers often provide advice that will provide justification for the client’s agenda (e.g., to restrict your gun rights). Prior to the AG issuing the opinion putting anti-gun politicians in their place, cities were being advised by counsel to rely on the case of Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association v Sequim in order to wage their quiet jihad on your ability to protect your family and loved ones and remain safe at public meetings.

In Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association v City of Sequim, 158 Wash.2d 342 (2006), the court held that the City of Sequim was acting in a private capacity when leasing out a city convention center to an association conducting a gun show within the premises belonging to Sequim. The court decided that the laws that apply to public parks, public meetings and other municipally owned premises and property are not the same as restrictions imposed on private parties per a city’s contractual relations with private parties.

AGO Opinion 2008-8 essentially states that the City of Federal Way’s conclusion that the city has the right “to decide as an owner how its property is used” would render the preemption statute meaningless. In the event civil litigation becomes necessary, attorney’s fees for the defendant can be very high especially in the face of the unequivocal legal authority outlined herein.

As stated already, there are several jurisdictions within the State of Washington that are not presently complying with the preemption law and firearms owners are becoming very concerned that such callous indifference to state law may endanger the lives of Washington citizens in direct contravention of legislative intent!

The best defense for the citizens of Washington state, all of whom are vulnerable to random shootings and street violence is to limit the number of “gun free” zones that are available as kill zones to criminals, terrorists or other deranged individuals seeking publicity by mass shootings. Almost all such shootings have occurred in areas where honest citizens have been rendered defenseless by laws or policies that violate RCW 9.41.290.

See also The Living Constitution?

Otis McDonald & the Second Amendment in Chicago

The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) may have decided the most important gun case in history on June 28, 2010. A previous landmark 2008 gun case, DC vs. HELLER, held that the Constitution actually meant what the Founding Fathers thought they meant when they drafted it! The Bill of Rights only began to be applied to the states due to the 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War to protect newly freed citizens from the tyranny of Southern regimes that deployed de jure force of law and de facto intimidation to perpetuate slavery.

In MCDONALD VS. CHICAGO, the Court acknowledged that the 14th Amendment aims at firearms restrictions enacted against Blacks and enforced by armed white mobs often via the noose-end of a rope! Otis McDonald, the 76 year-old African-American Plaintiff in the case, is a neighborhood activist targeted because he stood up to thugs that lay claim to the streets of Chicago.

Chicago required registration in order for Mr. McDonald to keep a hand gun in his home but also prohibited the registration of handguns. Thus, McDonald sued Chicago and declared independence from a de facto ban on handguns.

The criteria upon which SCOTUS determined that the right to keep and bear arms applies against state governments relates to whether gun rights are fundamental to a civilized society. Amazingly, Mayor Richard Daley, thinks that disarming citizens in the City of the Big Shoulders is just a “common sense” measure because other civilized nations also have enacted severe gun control laws.

Judging by the high murder rate in Chicago, Mayor Daley’s “common sense” may seem like blatant racism to black people like Otis McDonald. Just as Daley’s father defied Martin Luther King by displaying his middle finger to Civil Rights marchers in front of City Hall in Chicago, Chicago’s current machine boss has vowed to keep fighting to keep guns out of the hands of honest people.

Chicago is busy attempting to thwart gun ownership with new legal barriers and the Mayor urged countries like Mexico to sue the U.S. gun industry in the World Court!

Washington has a firearms preemption law that prevents municipalities from enacting gun laws that are more restrictive than laws enacted by the state legislature. Expect to see lawsuits challenging California laws against semi-automatic rifles; i.e., “assault weapons” that look like fully-automatic M-16s.

Washington State’s legislature has recently considered enacting assault weapon bans similar to the one in California. The Second Amendment protects “militarily useful” firearms. Future court decisions may protect us against folks like our own Sen. Kline (another former SDS affiliate who graduated into state politics) by deciding in the future that the Second Amendment protects “assault weapons”. Military style semi-autos, high-capacity magazines and/or .50 caliber rifles- legal in Washington and most other states- are all prohibited in California.

The Obama administration is presently moving toward a UN Treaty on Small Arms and expects the courts might uphold executive orders backed up by international treaty commitments that would arguably preempt the U.S. Constitution. Abridging Americans’ gun rights is now one of the most important planks in the agenda of the United Nations and one reason Supreme Court nominations launch battles that become hotly contested fire fights!

Christian Legal Society loses case

On the same day the McDonald decision came out, the Court issued the Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez (UC Hastings) decision that removed an important cultural and legal landmark. The Christian Legal Society encourages Christian law students to remain faithful to Christ. The pressure to conform to certain standards of “professionalism” can be intense in law school.

Clubs have always been defined by the ability to determine their own membership but the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law has policies that force the organization to accept officers and voting members who hold beliefs and engage in conduct that opposes CLS’s purpose of developing Christian character in law students and providing Christian outreach and witness on campus. Therefore, the law school, located in San Francisco, takes a position that is very unusual for most universities and thereby inhibited the group’s ability to define and express its message.

Justice Kennedy voted with the majority in erasing a strong legal principle militating in favor of putting all campus groups on an equal playing field in which each group decides its own criteria for determining membership qualifications. CLS was seeking special treatment, according to the majority. Does this mean that all clubs on campus must now allow new members when the new members are opposed to the fundamental principles for which the group stands? Do Jewish campus groups have to let Hamas sympathizers join? Must socialist clubs allow members from Young Americans for Freedom?

While some Americans ask why some of us use the harsh language of “partisan” warfare, citizens in nations that have lost their freedom are looking at what Americans will do next as the land of the free struggles to remain free.

DC vs. Heller

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed DC v Heller in a five to four landmark decision last year. Justice Scalia firmly placed the Court’s decision, which knocks down Washington DC’s ban on firearms within the bedrock of the Founding Fathers’ original intentions; i.e., the decision sets forth a principle scorned by tyrants over the centuries. It is in the people that the power of governmental force resides. The government’s use of deadly force ultimately derives from an individual’s duty to protect herself or himself, one’s family and neighbors.

The fact that the discussion of self-defense is usually framed in terms of rights is, perhaps, unfortunate in that Americans can easily become exhausted by the perpetual yapping about “rights”. We have welfare rights, immigration rights, First Amendment right to purvey obscenity. The “right” to keep and bear arms is first of all a duty. Many states, especially in the Eastern U.S., still have laws on the books requiring men of certain ages to have a military weapon and suitable ammunition in specific quantities in order to be ready to perform militia service:

That is what Congress did in the first militia Act, which specified that “each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia.” Act of May 8, 1792, 1 Stat. 271.

Ironically, many of the states that still have such laws on the books will see state and local restrictions on gun ownership challenged as a result of Justice Scalia’s bold enunciations. The Court has recognized an ancient truth that the ancient commonwealths of Israel, Athens, Rome and England (to name a few) took for granted. Free men should own weapons. Those that refuse will not remain free for long. As late as WW II, the authorities called out armed civilians to patrol the East Coast to prevent possible invasions.

The habits of training and handling personal firearms breed a culture of respect for life, habits of steady minded courage, craftsmanship, patience and skill along with appreciation for history and the role of the individual and families in shaping history.

With the Founders’ values and principles in mind, it is worth reflecting on the context of the decision. Yesterday, the Court in another five to four decision, Kennedy v Louisiana, referenced evolving standards to institutionalize a “consensus” that capital punishment for violent child rapists offends decency. In both cases, there were four solid justices lined up in favor of looking to the Founders’ intentions against four justices that regularly look to vague extra-Constitutional concepts such as international norms, foreign precedent and “consensus”. These paradigm shifts in the court evolve in synchronicity with the evolution of elitist morality that has so often been legislated upon those of us that are not law professors or enablers of the American mandarin class.

Judges like Justice Ginsburg, a former ACLU counsel, will normally confront the violent rape of a child with a certain amount of equanimity. After all, in her world, shaping public policy is a priest-like and arcane activity, requiring esoteric power to construe the direction of evolving standards and articulate a mysterious consensus about which mere mortals are unaware.

Rather than attempt to amend the Constitution from the bench as the dissenters would, Justice Scalia’ majority opinion in the Heller case began squarely with the plain meaning of the terms employed by the framers of the Bill of Rights:

“Keep and bear Arms.” We move now from the holder of the right—“the people”—to the substance of the right: “to keep and bear Arms.” Before addressing the verbs “keep” and “bear,” we interpret their object: “Arms.” The 18th-century meaning is no different from the meaning today. The 1773 edition of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary defined “arms” as “weapons of offence, or armour of defence.” 1 Dictionary of the English Language 107 (4th ed.) (hereinafter Johnson). Timothy Cunningham’s important 1771 legal dictionary defined “arms” as “any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another.” 1 A New and Complete Law Dictionary(1771); see also N. Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).”

Justice Scalia went on to define what it means to keep and bear arms:

We turn to the phrases “keep arms” and “bear arms.” Johnson defined “keep” as, most relevantly, “[t]o retain; not to lose,” and “[t]o have in custody.” Johnson 1095. Webster defined it as “[t]o hold; to retain in one’s power or possession.” No party has apprised us of an idiomatic meaning of “keep Arms.” Thus, the most natural reading of “keep Arms” in the Second Amendment is to “have weapons.”

Thus, when the Constitution was drafted, the right to have arms had become fundamental for English subjects. Scalia quotes Blackstone, the great expounder of the common laws of England. Blackstone’s Commentaries “constituted the preeminent authority on English law for the founding generation….” The English Bill of Rights inspired, to a large degree, the U.S. Bill of Rights and, according to Blackstone, self defense and the right to be armed was “one of the fundamental rights of Englishmen”. See 1 Blackstone 136, 139–140 (1765). Contemporary authorities concurred.

The Heller decision also presents incisive history lessons related to the nature of the organized & unorganized militia, concepts that were familiar to many at the time that the Federalists were trying to win over anti-Federalists who feared standing armies and the despotism that was associated with strong central government:

There are many reasons why the militia was thought to be “necessary to the security of a free state.” See 3 Story §1890. First, of course, it is useful in repelling invasions and suppressing insurrections. Second, it renders large standing armies unnecessary—an argument that Alexander Hamilton made in favor of federal control over the militia. The Federalist No. 29, pp. 226, 227 (B. Wright ed. 1961) (A. Hamilton). Third, when the able-bodied men of a nation are trained in arms and organized, they are better able to resist tyranny.

Thus, Justice Scalia states, “It was understood across the political spectrum that the (Second Amendment) right helped to secure the ideal of a citizen militia, which might be necessary to oppose an oppressive military force if the constitutional order broke down.”

Many of the state constitutions at the time of the Founders used Second Amendment keep and bear arms language in a manner that clearly demonstrated an intent to recognize that individual ownership and use of firearms was encompassed by the term. Scalia cites Pennsylvania’s Declaration of Rights of 1776:

“That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves, and the state . . . .” §XIII, in 5 Thorpe 3082, 3083 (emphasis added).

The majority opinion goes on to point out that many colonial statutes required individual arms-bearing for public-safety reasons— such as the 1770 Georgia law that “for the security and defence of this province from internal dangers and insurrections” required those men who qualified for militia duty individually “to carry fire arms” “to places of public worship.”

The Court cites St. George Tucker’s version of Blackstone’s Commentaries for the proposition that:

The right to self-defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine the right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.” He believed that the English game laws had abridged the right by prohibiting “keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game.”

Another famous Constitutional scholar wrote:

One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offence to keep arms, and by substituting a regular army in the stead of a resort to the militia.” A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States §450 (Story).

The Court cites one of my favorite authors, firearms lawyer Stephen Halbrook, to illustrate that “in the aftermath of the Civil War, there was an outpouring of discussion of the Second Amendment in Congress and in public discourse, as people debated whether and how to secure constitutional rights for newly free slaves. See generally S. Halbrook, Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866–1876 (1998):

Yet those born and educated in the early 19th century faced a widespread effort to limit arms ownership by a large number of citizens; their understanding of the origins and continuing significance of the Amendment is instructive. Blacks were routinely disarmed by Southern States after the Civil War. Those who opposed these injustices frequently stated that they infringed blacks’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Needless to say, the claim was not that blacks were being prohibited from carrying arms in an organized state militia.”

The majority opinion discussing the legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment quotes a joint Congressional Report that described how after the Civil War “in some parts of [South Carolina], armed parties… without proper authority, engaged in seizing all firearms found in the hands of the freemen. Such conduct is in clear and direct violation of their personal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, which declares that ‘the right of the people to freedmen of South Carolina have shown by their peaceful and orderly conduct that they can safely be trusted with fire-arms, and they need them to kill game for subsistence, and to protect their crops from destruction by birds and animals.”

The view was common right after the Civil War that newly freed black citizens held a constitutional right to bear arms. The viewpoint expressed in these statements “was widely reported and was apparently widely held.”

For example, “an editorial in The Loyal Georgian (Augusta) on February 3, 1866, assured blacks that “[a]ll men, without distinction of color, have the right to keep and bear arms to defend their homes, families or themselves.”

“It was plainly the understanding in the post-Civil War Congress that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to use arms for self-defense.”

Justice Stevens’ dissent strains to reach new apogees of linguistic sophistry. It is like listening to President Clinton split hairs about what the meaning of “is” is:

“[K]eep and bear arms” thus perfectly describes the responsibilities of a framing-era militia member. This reading is confirmed by the fact that the clause protects only one right, rather than two. It does not describe a right “to keep arms” and a separate right “to bear arms.” Rather, the single right that it does describe is both a duty and a right to have arms available and ready for military service, and to use them for military purposes when necessary. Different language surely would have been used to protect nonmilitary use and possession of weapons from regulation if such an intent….”

The dissent lectures the majority on the principle of stare decisis; i.e., the principle that a court should not lightly set aside prior precedent. Citing Miller, Justice Stevens argues that the holding relates the right to keep and bear arms to military matters.

Belying the dissent’s reliance on Miller, there was no party briefing the case for the other side in Miller. The Miller Court ruled that the distinction between the sawed-off shotgun possessed unlawfully by the defendant in that case and a militarily useful weapon should be the basis for upholding the National Firearms Act that outlawed certain kinds of weapons. That is as far as the Miller court went. Nevertheless, from 1939 until now the Miller case has been cited to deny individuals any standing to enter the courthouse door and seek redress state, local or federal policy render us defenseless. See United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 (1939).

In 2003, the usual Supreme Court suspects cried, “Stare decisis be damned and full speed ahead with the global social agenda!” All in the name of melding our institutions with the evolving international consensus. That was the case where the Court overturned its own seventeen year old precedent, negating its previous opinion upholding states that outlaw sodomy between adults.

Think of all the cities like Chicago and Washington, DC that have disarmed their citizens, a citizenry that has seen children raped, the streets held by thugs and armies of drug dealers. Citizens fear what used to be called “hue and cry”. Well, now the mayors, like Seattle’s Mayor Nickels and the Mayor of the other Washington, are making the hue and cry.

See full text of Heller decision.

The Assault on Guns in Washington State: Sen. Kline’s Weapon Ban Hearings

Linda Pillo, Bellevue Washington’s police chief, was named chief in January, 2008. She bested five other candidates from around the nation. Pillo, 53, is the first woman chief in Bellevue. She told the local Seattle news media that running a police department was “something she never expected to do when she started police work on Mercer Island after graduating from Washington State University in 1978”. She aspired to be a supervisor, however.

At the Senate hearings on January 26, 2010, she showed the world how she rose so quickly through the ranks after joining the Bellevue department in 1986 and rising from lieutenant to captain, major, deputy chief, chief and now as a chief that chops wood and hauls water for left-wing trial lawyers like Adam Kline. Pillo sat in front of Washington State Senator Adam Kline’s judiciary committee and called everyone’s attention to studies conducted by the International Association of Chief’s of Police (IACP) and the anti-gun, Chicago-based Joyce Foundation. The two groups jointly sponsored “THE GREAT LAKES SUMMIT ON GUN VIOLENCE”.

Supposedly the evidence generated by the studies conducted via the summit provide proof that law enforcement is at great risk due to the lethality of semi-automatic military style weapons. Pam Roach asked Chief Pillo what makes the so-called “assault weapons” (i.e., rifles with detachable magazines and pistol grips) more lethal than the alternatives. Several times Pillo, obviously stumped, just muttered that she was only testifying about assault rifles.

Pillo could not even explain why ten rounds are more lethal than one round- they both are lethal. Kline had to run interference by fatuously pointing out that ten rounds can kill ten people. All Chief Pillo could answer is that she believes in the right to keep and bear arms. It is interesting how many politicians suddenly believe in the Second Amendment but claim that the HELLER decision “invites” supposedly common-sense restrictions on militarily useful weapons.

Sen. Kline squelched Sen. Roach several times when she tried to ask questions pertaining to things like how many people have been saved by military style weapons that fire ten rounds or more. Most officers on the street to whom I have spoken acknowledge that military style weapons are not more lethal than other semi-automatic weapons. Most of those that attended the hearing would agree.

In fact, the consensus is that it is the political appointees within law enforcement that normally take the position espoused by the Bellevue Police Chief.

Brian Judy from the NRA testified but not until after Kline took quite some time pompously stating the position of the bill’s supporters. Kline described how he visited the Black Diamond Range and shot assault weapons with Sen. Roach and seemed almost amazed at the measures taken to make the shooting range a safe envirinment.

Judy finally got to explain that the percentage of crimes committed with the notorious ARs (that others testifying for the ban stated killed 25% of LEOs slain between 1998 and 2001) is less than one percent.

Despite such startling statistics, the four officers slain at the same time by the same assailant, Maurice Clemmons, in Parkland were shot with eight rounds from pistols- one a thirty-eight revolver. When Mr. Judy pointed out that SB 6396 provides that present owners of such weapons will be required to submit our homes to annual police inspections, Kline abruptly interjected to declare that “such language was included in the Senate bill by accident!”

Bill Pierce, a concerned citizen, was interrupted and silenced when he pointed out that law abiding gun-owners are offended that Kline, a former SDS activist (and apparently proud of it), is implying that gun-owners are dangerous while he has supported left-wing groups affiliated with the most extreme forms of violence against society. Kline’s biography that he maintains with the Washington Senate Democrats states:

“I was a foot-soldier in our generation’s battles, and the experience seems to have set the tone for the rest of my life. Back to college at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and still in the spirit, I decided to take that year off from study and work in an SDS-sponsored organizing project in East Baltimore’s slums. (Remember SDS–Students for a Democratic Society? We were radical, we were belligerent, and sometimes we were self-righteous. But you know something? By and large, we were right.) It was a year well spent for a young man interested in social policy, and the lessons I learned are still with me.”

Pierce was immediately shouted down by more than one of the Democrats on the judiciary committee. Kline, the sponsor of the proposed legislation, allowed his witnesses to argue and stonewall, all the while that he was helping their testimony and running interference against Pam Roach. Kline is a board member and chair of the political-action committee of NARAL, the pro-choice advocacy group and a member of the Legislative Committee of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

There is enough information to see how the lines are drawn in Olympia. The Seattle Times, stated that “2009 ended in a hail of high-profile gun violence” and pointed out that the bill could may not get reported out of Kline’s committee, which has five Democrats and three Republicans. Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, a Democrat, says he will vote no. Gun-control groups like Washington Ceasefire (they now believe in the Second Amendment, too) are frustrated by an apparent lack of political support for an assault weapons ban.

Nevertheless, the anti-gun activists are warning that the state will likely face more deadly shootings without it. And they call gun-owners paranoid! According to the Seattle Times:

The bill has been endorsed by groups such as Washington Ceasefire, the International Association of Police Chiefs, the Jewish Federation of Seattle and the United African Political Action Committee, among others. Seattle police spokesman Mark Jamieson said the department has not taken a position on the bill.

Such groups also raise the specter of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton’s execution in his patrol car on Halloween. Police allegedly found an assault rifle at the apartment of Christopher Monfort, the man charged with killing Brenton. So which guns are lethal and which ones are not? Sen. Pam Roach knows that they all are.

Did Clinton Gun Ban Make Fort Hood Vulnerable to Jihad Attack?

The Washington Times recently ran the following editorial:

Last week’s slaughter at Fort Hood Army base in Texas was no different – except that one man bears responsibility for the ugly reality that the men and women charged with defending America were deliberately left defenseless when a terrorist opened fire.

Among President Clinton’s first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases. In March 1993, the Army imposed regulations forbidding military personnel from carrying their personal firearms and making it almost impossible for commanders to issue firearms to soldiers in the U.S. for personal protection. For the most part, only military police regularly carry firearms on base, and their presence is stretched thin by high demand for MPs in war zones.

After talking to a veteran and reviewing some forums on such matters, it seemed that the assertions in the article may not bear up under scrutiny. For example:

“I spent 23 years in the military under about 6 presidents and I can’t recall anyone walking around US bases (been through many of them on my way here and there) armed unless they were MPs or DOD cops, or troops about to deploy (in which case they would be on their way somewhere, and ,,, the live ammo would still be in the crates until they reached wherever it was they were going to use it). I don’t recall anyone strutting around with side arms just for the hell of it.”

We have finally located Army Regulation 90-114, the 1993 regulation which limits carrying of weapons for law enforcement and security personnel within military installations. Despite the Clinton administration’s limitations upon MP’s and other LEOs on base, the regulation nevertheless provides for law enforcement personnel to carry weapons to:

(1) Conduct law enforcement activities including cases or investigations of espionage, sabotage, and other serious crimes in which DA programs, personnel, or property are involved and investigations conducted in hazardous areas or under hazardous circumstances.

(2) Protect classified information, systems, or equipment.

(3) Protect the President of the United States, high ranking Government officials, DOD personnel, or foreign dignitaries.

(4) Protect DOD assets and personnel.

(5) Guard prisoners.

d. DA military and civilian personnel may be authorized to carry firearms for personal protection when the responsible intelligence center identifies a credible and specific threat against DA personnel in that regional area. Firearms will not be issued indiscriminately for
that purpose. Before individuals are authorized to carry a firearm for personal protection under this regulation, the authorizing official must evaluate—

(1) The probability of the threat in a particular location.

(2) The adequacy of support by DA or DOD protective personnel.

(3) The adequacy of protection by U.S. or host nation authorities.

(4) The effectiveness of other means to avoid personal attacks.

Thus, officers of field grade rank or higher, or civilian equivalent of GS-12 or above may authorize the carrying of firearms and the Secretary of the Army has authority to authorize carrying for personal protection within the continental United States. And yes! It is hard to believe that we don’t trust soldiers with guns on an Army base when we trust these very same men in Iraq and Afghanistan:

“In states where legal concealed carry is an accepted practice, American service members need to be allowed to carry a gun for self-defense – on post and off – because the global war on terror has changed the risk level they live with each and every day.

The global war on terror has changed the way America fights our wars and has changed the risk level our service members are forced to endure. Letting soldiers have the same rights afforded to civilians when it comes to carrying a concealed handgun is a reform that is well past due.”

See also How Many Died Because of Ban?

The Washington Times article refers to research showing that when folks are armed the damage caused in active shooter situations will be more limited. This is because a “major factor in determining how many people are harmed by these killers is the time that elapses between the launch of an attack and when someone – soldier, civilian or law enforcement – arrives on the scene with a gun to end the attack.”

The article goes on to claim that all the public shootings in the United States in which more than three people have been killed have occurred in places where concealed handguns have been banned.

A 23 year old Islamic convert killed one soldier and wounded another outside a recruiting center in a jihad attack in Little Rock, Arkansas:

A 23-year-old man upset about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan opened fire from his truck at two soldiers standing outside a military recruiting station here on Monday morning, killing one private and wounding another, the police said. According to the New York Times (June 1, 2009):

The gunman, identified by the police as Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad of Little Rock, fled the scene and was arrested minutes later a short distance from the recruiting station, in a bustling suburban shopping center. The police confiscated a Russian-made SKS semiautomatic rifle, a .22-caliber rifle and a handgun from his black pickup truck.

The NYT article goes on to explain that bomb threats and vandalism against recruiting offices are not uncommon. For example, in 2008, a bomb exploded at a military recruitment center in Times Square. Thus, our troops are in as much risk at home as they are on foreign battlefields. Rather than blame it on President Clinton, we should focus on enabling soldiers and sailors to carry weapons openly on base (and openly or concealed off base as permitted by local and state laws; i.e., with a Concealed Pistol License where and when required. It even makes sense to provide some special training that will qualify personnel to carry on base. By arming more qualified personnel on and off base, the military will advance the objective of keeping our men and women safe while they protect us from our nation’s enemies.

Emergency Preparedness: King County Violating Washington State Gun Rights

How many years have we listened to the talking class bemoan the fact that most of us know more about what happens in the Middle East than we know about our own local governments? Suddenly the internet and cable TV have created an explosion of engaged citizens and the political class is worried! In between Tea Parties and disrupting Town Meetings, citizen activists all over the State of Washington are investigating county and local governments that have enacted emergency power provisions that violate RCW 9.41.290, the Washington State preemption statute.

For example, the City of Yakima just amended certain local laws that were in violation of the state preemption law. Then we discovered to our dismay that the Council had retained the following:

Chapter 6.06

EMERGENCY POWERS OF MAYOR, CITY COUNCIL AND CITY MANAGER

(7) An order prohibiting the possession of firearms or any other deadly weapon by a person (other than a law enforcement officer) in a place other than that person’s place of residence or business;

Such statutory provisions are in direct violation of the state preemption statute:

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

RCW 9.41.290

King County Code presently includes the following:

B. Upon the proclamation of an emergency by the executive, and during the existence of such emergency, the executive may make and proclaim any or all of the following orders:

9. An order prohibiting the carrying or possession of firearms or any instrument which is capable of producing bodily harm and which is carried or possessed with intent to use the same to cause such harm; provided that any such order shall not apply to peace officers or military personnel engaged in the performance of their official duties;

King County Code 12.52.030 (9)

Note that the King County emergency gun ban even goes beyond banning guns outside homes and businesses. Apparently the King County Council claims the power to ban guns in your home- just like the authorities in New Orleans that went from house to house, disarming terrified residents that had already been abandoned by police and other authorities during a time when the citizens of New Orleans desperately needed protection from looters and roving gangs of thugs.

HB 1832 has been stuck in the House Judiciary Committee for more than a few years. The proposed legislation would prohibit government gun grabs during emergencies but has little chance of being reported out of committee unless irate Washington State voters start raising a hue and cry!

Contact your local law enforcement and city and county lawmakers if such a law has been enacted where you live and contact us to let us know what responses, if any, that you receive. We have been involved professionally with clients and citizen activists in successfully advocating changes in both the Federal Way and Yakima codes by simply informing honest public servants that some local laws are illegal. Federal Way is now one hundred percent in compliance with state law.

On September 1, 2009, the City of Yakima discussed three statutes that were in violation of RCW 9.41.290, the Washington State preemption statute. Thanks to Dave Poling’s hard work and testimony, the Council decided to Amend its city ordinances in order to repeal certain restrictions including the “power” to ban guns during emergencies.

See VIDEO starting at minute 5:35.

Emergency bans on weapons raise liability issues. When local governments claim powers that that can lawfully only be invoked by the governor and/or the state legislature, federal and state civil remedies are available to citizens that are harassed (such as by gun confiscation). See Video (fast forward to last five or ten minute segment).

Thus, the real issue is liability if an emergency gun ban is invoked, a municipality confiscates guns lawfully carried by citizens and the victims of the confiscation subsequently take legal action. Even the Governor may incur liability if she confiscates weapons during an emergency where there are federal emergency funds coming into the state. City, county and state officials should consider the legal fees and costs incurred by New Orleans when guns were confiscated in the aftermath of Katrina. The issues raised at the Yakima City Council meeting relate to Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution, RCW 9.41.290 State Preemption and RCW 43.06.010(12) in which the Governor has sole power and duty to proclaim an emergency in Washington State.

Leaving emergency powers laws on the books until challenged can be a costly decision. The Yakima City Council already recognized that state law preempts local laws in all matters pertaining to firearms when it removed two other illegal statutes from the books at the same meeting during which legal counsel made the comments referenced above.

You can ascertain much about the status of firearms laws in various localities and other information at http://www.OpenCarry.com.

The Governor has emergency powers that enable her to ban guns outside the home during a state of emergency:

RCW 43.06.220

State of emergency — Powers of governor pursuant to proclamation.

(1) The governor after proclaiming a state of emergency and prior to terminating such, may, in the area described by the proclamation issue an order prohibiting:
(e) The possession of firearms or any other deadly weapon by a person (other than a law enforcement officer) in a place other than that person’s place of residence or business;

While the above referenced state law is not in violation of the state preemption statute, residents of Washington state should be considering the way in which residents of New Orleans experienced a massive gun confiscation during the emergency following Hurricane Katrina. See NRA vs New Orleans.

The NRA and many state legislators all over the United States have worked to enact laws preventing just such a confiscation in other states. Nevertheless, in Washington state, we are at the mercy of the Governor because, although there is proposed legislation modeled after the NRA endorsed legislation, it is unlikely it will ever get reported out of committee.

As indicated above, states, counties and local governments may be sued under the Stafford Act if gun confiscation laws are enforced during an emergency for which a state or local government is receiving federal funds:

Private rights of action

(1) In general

Any individual aggrieved by a violation of this section may seek relief in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress against any person who subjects such individual, or causes such individual to be subjected, to the deprivation of any of the rights, privileges, or immunities secured by this section.

(2) Remedies

In addition to any existing remedy in law or equity, under any law, an individual aggrieved by the seizure or confiscation of a firearm in violation of this section may bring an action for return of such firearm in the United States district court in the district in which that individual resides or in which such firearm may be found.

(3) Attorney fees

In any action or proceeding to enforce this section, the court shall award the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.

42 USC Sec. 5207 (01/08/2008)

See video: Gun Confiscation in New Orleans.