Will Biathlon Shooting Events Come to North Idaho?

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Kris Jensen competes in a Biathlon Shooting Event on cross-country skis. Photo courtesy Kris Jensen.

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Story by Sandpoint PR Contributing Editor, Mark Knapp.

A lot of people watched the WINTER OLYMPICS and are asking questions about the Biathlon competition in Sochi. In a Biathlon, competitors get their heart beats racing by skiing across the countryside from one location to another and then stopping to engage targets out as far as 165 feet!

One of my friends asked me about the unique features of the .22 caliber rifles that the competitors use. I went to law school at Gonzaga with Kris Jensen. Jensen is a Biathlon competitor so I asked him about which rifle he shoots. It is an Izshmash 7-4. Izmash was at the Shot Show this year and, judging by their presence in Las Vegas, the armory that produced the AK-47 and many other Russian firearms, is invading the U.S. gun market in a big way.

There are two makers of biathlon guns, Anschutz, the German Biathlon rifle is about $3500.00- just for an entry level version without most of the accessories. The Izshmash entry level version is about $1500.00. All the guns used in competition have been modified extensively to lower the weight, custom fit the shooter and make the gun shoot more accurately. The rules of Biathlon are that triggers be within a certain pull weight, overall weight must be over a certain amount and lengths are also specified within certain parameters. Ammunition is standard .22 caliber.

The bolt action on the Anschutz is finger pull back and thumb press forward. The Izshmash action is also finger back and thumb forward but requires the thumb to come out on the side of the bolt, which is a little slower because your hand moves a little more between shots. This German YouTube video shows some good views of the Biathlon rifles that show the bolt action movement with finger back and thumb forward.

Jensen grew up in Wenatchee in a family that hunted a lot. Jensen had two other brothers that were also athletic. Over the years he enjoyed Nordic skate skiing more and more. His family had a cabin in the Methow Valley where he was cross-country skiing a lot during the winter. Skiing and shooting were a natural fit. Jensen is the President of the Methow Valley Biathlon board. The team is coached by a volunteer, Winthrop veterinarian Betsy Devin-Smith.

The participants are mostly high school kids but there is a Masters division that holds regular races during the winter season. There is also a club that uses facilities at Stevens Pass.

Jensen helps support the team and takes the pressure off the coach by administering the website and helping with logistics.

Methow Valley Biathlon has two main fundraiser events each year. They are called TRY BIATHLON. The club invites recreational skiers to come try the sport of biathlon. If you want to give Biathlon competition a shot or just get more information, you can go to http://methowvalleynordic.com/biathlon/try-biathlon/.

Range size really depends on the site. Shooting distance is 50m (165feet). A range typically has ten lanes, so that’s about 100 feet wide making the total shooting footprint about 16,500 square feet. Jensen estimates that with proper backdrop and good side shields you could squeeze it onto one acre (43,560 ft2). An enterprising entrepreneur or local government working with Idaho business leaders can create such a venue in North Idaho with a minimum of expense and use the range year around for action matches, high power and bull’s eye shooting the rest of the year.

The backdrop in the pictures is USFS land with a steep hillside. We have been advocating for additional shooting venues in North Idaho and there are already things happening behind the scenes that promise to be exciting! Olympic shooting trials can bring in a huge amount of international coverage and tourism. Thus, despite the suggestion that one acre may be sufficient, several acres may be more favorable to North Idaho’s plans for economic development.

If some investors want to get really ambitious, North Idaho can even become the birthplace of a new sport in which participants shoot rifle, pistol and shot gun from skis. Biathlon started as a military discipline with high power rifles. In 1978, eighteen years after Biathlon became an Olympic event, athletic officials bowed to European ways by going to standard velocity, more politically correct .22 caliber ammunition. Prior to 1978, the American team used Winchester Model 70s in .243 Winchester!

In the summer time, North Idaho can turn the Nordic skiing trails into motocross trails and really crank up some high speed shooting action!

Reposted with permission of Sandpoint PR.

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Machine Guns & Automatic Weapons in Washington State

http://www.atg.wa.gov/AGO…archive&id=7708

We sometimes get questions as to whether a machine gun qualifies for Curio/Relic status under federal regulations. Any such items must comply with the National Firearms Act of 1934 and also local state law.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives will not allow transfer of ANY automatic weapon into Washington state since July 1, 1994 (except departmental purchases). Thus, there are no exceptions for antiques under Washington state law per RCW 9.41.190 and the definitions under RCW 9.41.010. Nevertheless, it is theoretically possible per Washington law to own an automatic weapon if you are in the armed forces, provided that BATFE will provide the $200.00 tax stamp.

RCW 9.41.190 states the following:

It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any machine gun or any part thereof capable of use or assembling or repairing any machine gun: Provided, however, That such limitation shall not apply to any peace officer in the discharge of official duty, or to any officer or member of the armed forces of the United States or the state of Washington: Provided,further, That this section does not apply to a person, including an employee of such person, who or which is exempt form or licensed under the National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. section 5801 et seq.), and engaged in the production, manufacture or testing of weapons or equipment to be used or purchased by the armed forces of the United States, and having a United States government industrial security clearance.

See Washington State Attorney General Opinion.

If you are retired from the military, you may have to go to court and obtain a WRIT OF MANDAMUS (or a declaratory judgment- a legal determination of a court as to the legal position of litigants in cases where there is doubt as to their position in law) in order to get the stamp. A Writ of Mandamus orders officials to perform as required by law and is an extraordinary writ; i.e., a long shot where the BATFE’s decision on your application has been to deny the application. We wilI will be glad to draft an opinion letter as to the legal issues, litigation strategy and possible legal outcomes of any proposed litigation; e.g., pertaining to a WRIT OF MANDAMUS or potential declaratory judgment.

Opinion letters normally are limited to a well-defined purview (which will be stated in the letter) subject to certain disclaimers. The BATFE is notorious for changing its policies without notice especially when it comes to defining what makes certain weapons and parts for firearms legal. The definitions are published but subject to interpretation.

We have previously researched short-barreled shot guns and there are some like the Serbu Shorty, for example, that may be legal in Washington subject to getting a $5.00 stamp from the BATFE. Thus, there are many grey areas which are subject to interpretation but obtaining a legal opinion shows that you at least conducted your due diligence if you end up in court.

From CMP to Three-Gun IPSC; an Across the Course Overview

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a new law that eventually led to creation of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship. The purpose of this legislative initiative was, “That every facility should be offered citizens outside of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and organized militia [National Guard] to become proficient in rifle shooting, and that this purpose can best be accomplished by means of rifle clubs.”

Even today, federal law provides a definition for an organized and an unorganized militia. The unorganized militia are the able-bodied citizenry at large (traditionally men between certain ages) that are able to defend their country. Pres. Roosevelt believed that America’s military preparedness depended on having people of all ages involved in competitions and other firearms training.

Thus, civilians, the NRA, police & military shooting have all evolved together and there has been a constant interplay of innovation in technology, training techniques, competitions and personnel. Expert civilian competitors often compete right alongside expert military and police marksmen. Those with no police and military training succeed the same way that competitive soldiers, sailors and police succeed- by extra commitment, natural talent and a great deal of training.

The purpose of the DCM was to encourage this kind of interaction and military weapons were distributed from the U.S. surplus. The program almost died out in the Sixties because U.S. policy makers decided that small-arms were almost a thing of the past except for stopping waves of Soviets from crossing into Western Europe. The non-profit CMP was created at the last minute. There are still CMP competitions and reasonably priced WW II Garands and other excellent military weapons are available to folks that participate in competitions and other organized shooting activities.

I belong to Paul Bunyan Shooting Club in Puyallup and starting in February and throughout the summer, the Club will shut most of its facilities for certain days during which CMP practice and various rifle competitions are held. Normal rifle shooting at Paul Bunyan is at 200 yards or less. For me this is one of the few opportunities in which I can experience shooting at a target from 600 yards. In Service Match competition, all competition is with open sights and equipment that is standard for military rifles.

The preferred rifle for many is the semi-automatic version of the M-16 that most U.S. troops use in the field; i.e., semi-auto rifles (that means one shot with each pull of the trigger)that the media refers to as an “assault rifle” because they are usually black, accept magazines that are made to be easily removed and replaced with a fully loaded magazine and look like the full-auto weapons that our armed services deploy in times of war.

Many of the guys and ladies that shoot rifles either own an “AR” or would like to because they are accurate, easy to use and you can easily put a scope on many of them or other interesting equipment like lights and foregrips and things that make them no more threatening than much more powerful guns (that have more recoil and killing power) but those that want to take away guns- and our Constitution- want you to believe that they only want to ban the really evil guns with no legitimate sporting purpose “that are only made to be used for killing lots of people in a war”.

Once certain features (like foregrips) are banned it just becomes a matter of manipulating the definitions. The average member of the public that thinks the media is talking about full-automatic machine guns can hardly be expected to understand all the technical data on which federal and state gun restrictions hinge. It could easily be argued that a semi-automatic pistol is much more insidious than a military style rifle because pistols also hold quite a few bullets, are reloaded with removable clips and can be carried concealed.

Pistols were also designed for use in warfare and have killed many of America’s enemies along with innocent victims of crime. That is why the drafters of the Constitution saw fit to protect the use of such weapons! If they are militarily useful, the weapons can also be used to deter criminals, terrorists or even foreign enemies that might come to our shores.

Our club has some CMP Garands and the club occasionally lets members use them to participate in shooting events. The club’s Garands are semi-automatic 30.06 tack-drivers, modified with match-grade, free-floated barrels for more accuracy when the barrel heats up in competition. M-1 Garands hold eight rounds.

Hitting a six-foot high target at 600 yards with iron sights is an accomplishment in itself! Hitting the X-ring is extremely gratifying. Many teenagers are very skilled in such competition. It takes the ability to go into an extreme state of focused quietude that is the opposite of football, video games and other activities to which many of us are habituated. Women of all ages are also devoted to various disciplines involving both rifle and pistol shooting- and shotguns.

Another amazing event is an Appleseed Shoot. This is a grueling weekend of training that is similar to boot camp. While you learn the techniques that “make every man, woman and child a Rifleman,” you also learn about our Revolutionary War heritage. Every kind of rifle is used and every age and background. This movement is nationwide and draws people from all over. I went back and attended in North Idaho because I lived there for many years. In Couer d’Alene at the Fernan Range and Gun Club, I met men and women from Montana, Seattle and many places in the Northwest.

The rifleman’s skills are just as important now as ever before in our history.

I have also shot Steel Plate competitions. At Paul Bunyan we have very young kids that participate with their moms and dads and the young ladies (and older ones) often outshoot grown men that have years of military experience.

There is also a group of guys that work in public maintenance for Sumner with whom I have competed in combat-style IPSC shooting. USPSA, however, is the name of the organization under which many of the competitions are conducted. There is another branch of combat pistol competition called IDPA that tries to make the match more like you and I would experience if we encountered armed opponents on the streets. In all these “combat” shooting events, you run through a maze of multiple targets while shooting for speed and accuracy (sometimes at moving targets). I mention the guys from Sumner because if anyone ever attacked the City of Sumner with guns, the SWAT team could arrive late and the bad guys might be in more trouble than the residents of Sumner. These guys have trained to hit when they shoot and they train to shoot fast. They reload and shoot rapid-fire with pistols while they sprint past targets. My approach is to learn to do what they do while walking with an occasional jog.

Everyone is helpful and one reason to be there is to train to shoot faster while remaining accurate and handle jams and other unexpected developments while you have gobs of adrenaline downgrading your fine motor skills. After you run through one course and shoot as many as ten or twenty- or sometimes thirty rounds- you begin to get a feel for how men trained in times past- like the Texas Rangers that learned to shoot from the saddle while riding past a target at full gallop.

A new sport that is becoming very popular is cowboy action shooting. The Renton Fish & Game Club hosts these colorful affairs. All the guns are copies or originals from before 1900 and people wear expensive cowboy costumes and assume fictional identities (often from favorite Western dramas). Ladies seem to be especially drawn to this and everyone shoots a shotgun, usually two six-shooters and lever-action rifles. The targets tend to pop up, roll on the ground or spin and often loom within mock-ups of saloons, mining shafts and stage coaches. There also cowboy events held on horseback

Another sport that is becoming just as popular as cowboy action shooting is three-gun IPSC. Based on the multiple-targeted configurations discussed above, 3-gun competitors race through mazes with military-style carbines that are semi-auto versions of the weapons used by our U.S. military in warfare. Pistol and tactical shotguns are also part of the fun. Targets may be close or 500 yards away so many of the rifles hold more than one kind of sighting system in order to transition from close quarters combat to distances at which you can barely see a man-sized target.

Some of these competitions emphasize shooting from cover and attempt to recreate what happens in actual combat. Although recreationists and professionals often use simulated ammunition to conduct exercises against actual opponents that shoot back, you cannot substitute for training with real weapons.

Many attend schools like the Firearms Academy of Seattle (that I attended) where the skills of legal reasoning, sound tactical judgment and good decisions are provided. I announced a class on the LAW OF ARMED DEFENSE in January, 2010 and over forty people attended- many of them husbands and wives. All these activities are marked by prudence and the highest regard for safety and good citizenship. Even though more people have more guns than ever before, gun accidents are lower than ever before.

More people are carrying in public (judging by the increased number of CPLs issued across the U.S. recently) so it is good that so much education and training is available. Every state now has concealed carry except for Wisconsin and Illinois. A concealed carry law was passed in Wisconsin and then vetoed by the Governor a few years ago.

In all these competitions and training events there are some that will be going into the military or law enforcement, others that have already served and many that will go into other pursuits. After the Civil War, shooting sports became fashionable in colleges, the mansions of the wealthy and every part of American society from shooting ranges in working class neighborhoods to the White House. The U.S. may be experiencing another time like we saw in the early 1900s when shooting sports were integrated into American life- including the public schools. Justice Scalia tells how he would ride the subway in NY and take his .22 rifle with him for shooting practice afterw school.

A Ninth Circuit judge recently stated in a written appellate decision concurring with the majority opinion in the NORDYKE case that a terrorist attack like the Mumbai attack (in which 179 innocent people were killed by automatic weapon fire) would not get very far in the United States because of the Second Amendment.

But without the citizens that exercise their right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment would only be words on paper for lawyers to argue about. Incidentally, almost every Constitutional legal expert now concedes that the 2nd Amendment means what the Founders thought it meant when they drafted it. Pres. Roosevelt was right! Whatever goals people that shoot pursue, they add strength to our nation.

Is Another Assault Weapon Ban Coming?

By Mark S. Knapp, Attorney at Law

In 1994, Congress enacted a ban on assault weapons. President Clinton declared that such semi-automatic weapons were “built only for the purpose of killing people.” In the estimation of President Clinton and the United States Congress, Americans did not need such weapons to hunt and practice marksmanship. In 2004, the ban expired because its supporters could not show any impact on crime.

Americans increasingly favor owning light, semi-automatic rifles that fire many rounds (one pull of the trigger at a time) for competition and other purposes like protecting our children from predatory criminals. What makes assault weapons (AW) distinctively different from other semi-automatic weapons?

Automatic weapons that fire more than one shot with one pull of the trigger are already prohibited under federal law. Politicians seeking to gradually eliminate gun ownership know that the ability to create a banned category of weapons provides politicians with power to expand an Assault Weapon Ban to all semi-automatic weapons or even to weapons that hold more than ten rounds.

Thus, politicians recognize that by creating a list of characteristics defining certain weapons as illegal, firearms can be regulated out of existence. Many people think that pistols have no legitimate purpose. Is it true, however, that firearms with “legitimate” hunting and sporting purposes are the only weapons that Americans should be allowed to possess?

The men that drafted the Constitution had an intense debate that was finally settled by leaving the question of standing armies and military preparedness to the executive and legislative branches of the state and federal governments. In the event that inadequate attention to security issues put national security at risk, it was decided that the people themselves should be ready to take up arms to protect the Republic. On the other hand, the question of how to curtail a tyrant from controlling a large standing army was also addressed by providing for an armed populace.

The Second Amendment secures other liberties like the right to express dissent and to be free from governmental intrusions while enjoying privacy in our homes. State and federal legal cases resound with the precept that militarily useful weapons, not sporting goods, are what the U.S. and state constitutions provide for. Laws that required citizens to have a working rifle, suitable for military purposes and a prescribed amount of ammunition were common until modern standing military forces became the rule. Semi-automatic versions of the M-16, determined to be militarily useful by the United States government, are deployed every weekend as rifles of choice in competitions all over the State of Washington and the U.S.

10 USC 311 defines the militia as consisting “of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and… under 45 years of age….” The U.S. Constitution distilled legal wisdom from the classical world of Greece and Rome and Biblical Israel. Politicians were just as prone to disarming citizens in former times as they are today. The ancient despots stripped your weapons and there you stood- a slave. The moderns put you to sleep in lukewarm water while gradually turning up the heat.

See Wayne LaPierre video

Dave Workman’s piece about sixty-five House Democrats that oppose renewal of the AWB:

Gun prohibitionists are crowing that a federal judge on March 19 blocked a rule change allowing concealed carry in national parks.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Bill Clinton appointee, issued a preliminary injunction that the National Rifle Association says it will quickly appeal.

An apparently giddy Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, was quoted by the Associated Press noting, “We’re happy that this headlong rush to push more guns into more places has been slowed.”

Darned right he’s happy, but this has nothing to do with public safety or even the lengthy process under which the rule was adopted late last year. Contrary to what the Brady camp and its allies who sued to stop this rule are claiming, this change was not “sudden” or a “last minute bone” thrown to the evil “gun lobby.” This process took a couple of years and went through an extended public comment period last year, and the gun ban lobby knows it. Public comments were being taken as far back as last spring, and everyone had a chance to weigh in, and was even extended an additional 30 days at the request of opponents like Kurt Repanshek.

But, as it has now occurred to 65 Democrat members of the House of Representatives, the gun ban lobby is pretty good at stretching a falsehood (truth has nothing to do with it!). Read this letter in pdf form, courtesy the National Rifle Association.

‘The gun control community has intentionally misled many Americans…’

See Dave Kopel’s article for more about threat of “assault weapons” to police officers.

Can Airsoft People Survive in a .50 Caliber World?

AMERICA’S GUN CULTURE

On January 28, 2009, in a Federal Way Mirror article about the 1994 assault weapons ban, we reviewed some important issues raised when the men that drafted the U.S. Constitution disagreed about the question of whether to authorize “standing” armies. There were those on one side that felt national security might be neglected without a Constitutional provision mandating a full time, professional army. On the other side were men like Thomas Jefferson that saw the potential for the proposed federal government and full-time standing armies (like we have today) to become a new form of tyranny.

Minuteman

The Founders included the right to keep and arms in the Bill of Rights largely in order to satisfy proponents on both sides of this question. The modern objection that usually follows is that any invading military force that gets through the US Armed Forces will not be deterred by an armed citizen standing on his or her porch with a handgun. Nor is he going to prevent domestic armed forces from suppressing the populace should domestic tyranny arise.

Thus, the Second Amendment is an anachronism. Or is it? The American “rabble” defeated Britain’s unrivaled superpower forces that dominated much of the world’s land mass and all of the high seas. One advantage held by the colonial “minutemen” were long-barreled Kentucky rifles, with state of the art grooves that sent balls of lead spiraling into British columns with accuracy at distances that British smooth-bore weapons could not touch. Such rifle technology was available because colonial farmers and backwoodsmen were constantly handling and improving variants of evolving European designs.

Britain was across the Atlantic and lacked modern transport to bring the wily colonials to submission. The Soviet Union faced no such limitations when it invaded neighboring Finland- twice! Finnish citizen-soldiers halted Soviet troops in the 1939 Winter War and again in 1941!

Accurate shooting combined with the Finnish ability to travel across frozen lakes and forests on skis, provided numerous opportunities to obtain Russian arms and ammunition compatible with Finnish weapons.

Chinese Communist peasants and workers fought the well-armed Chinese Nationalists (supposedly at the same time that they were holding off invading Japanese forces). The Long March (actually more than one retreat from the Kuomintang over thousands of miles) seems to have been proof to Mao and his admirers that allowing citizens to own guns in China is unimaginable folly. In fact, no dictator has ever permitted such a situation to exist for very long.

We aren’t talking about standing on your front porch with a pistol or even a deer rifle! The Second Amendment is about handling and working with weapons that are militarily useful.

Ron Barrett’s .50 caliber rifle (outlawed in California) represents a heritage that puts Barrett along with American innovators like Samuel Colt, John Browning, and John Garand.

Such designers working in private sector shops and garages developed efficient guns used by civilians and military. Military and civilian shooters and designers in the U.S. always came from the same cultural fabric. The Founders knew that freedom to handle militarily useful firearms prepares each generation to pass on that heritage in a world that is hostile to freedom.

See video of Winter War.

Roundheads, Firearms, and the American Rifleman

There are dozens of shooting ranges and clubs in Western Washington and all over the United States. As early as 1466, shooting clubs were formed in Switzerland and, by the 15th Century, Schutzenfahnlein companies in Germany and the Swiss cantons boasted flags depicting crossbows and target rifles. Before long, many armies were combining pikemen with units of smoothbore musketeers that were almost accurate at 200 hundred yards to break up squares of massed troops. By the 1600s, weapons with grooved rifling began to show up on European battlefields.

Since that time, a rifleman culture, developed in many countries at once, culminating in the United States where civilian and military shooters have participated in competition together and shared knowledge and technology for many generations. The difference between a rifle and the earlier smooth bores is that the lead ball grips the rifling, resulting in spin that produces accuracy at ranges three times the distance of the smooth bore muskets.

During the Thirty Years War (1618-35), King Gustavus Adolphus II of Sweden was wounded by a Polish sharpshooter. The Dutch Republic soon began to export firearms, touching off an arms race that never really stopped.

See also Seige of Leyden.

The advantage of rifles over muskets at long range soon became evident, but the necessity of forcing a large ball against tightly fouled grooves made early rifles difficult to load quickly. The English Civil War (1642-48) was one of the first wars in which firearms were to predominate. Matchlock rifles began to appear but the most significant impact of the English Civil War on firearms technology may have been the influence of those times on a generation that was born a hundred years later in England‘s American colonies.

Men like Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams were raised on concepts of law, government and liberty that were set in motion by Parliament’s Roundhead militias that opposed Royalist claims to the “divine right” of kings.

American woodsmen came into contact with German and Swiss mercenaries armed with rifled firearms during the Seven Years War. By the time of the Revolutionary War, Americans demonstrated that a smaller ball fired from a long rifle was deadly at distances of 400 yards.

But see Ferguson Rifle.

The new American rifleman wasn’t a sporting man like the early Swiss and German shooters and he wasn’t a religious fanatic like some of Cromwell’s Roundheads. The new breed had learned to reject elitism under the lash of British officers during the French & Indian War and had studied tactics fighting alongside and against native American warriors.

Firearms technology and history conspired in early America to favor carrying, shooting and working with rifles and other shooting equipment. In Europe innovation shifted to huge enterprises like Krupp Arms, forever associated with progressive Germany’s 20th Century concepts of national socialism. In the United States, on the other hand, individual men like John Browning, proved that individual freedom trumps big government and every weekend there are Washingtonians in competitions all over the state perfecting long range shots that are still heard around the world.

Ferguson Rifle
1776 English

Major Patrick Ferguson patented this breech loading flintlock rifle in England, 1776. Only about 200 were made. The number ‘2’ stamped on the trigger guard distinguishes this one from the others.

Walnut, iron, brass. L 124.5 cm, L (barrel) 86.4 cm
Morristown National Historical Park, MORR 2375

See more on the design of the Ferguson Rifle.

NFA Trusts Available for Washington Gun Owners

Many gun owners are interested in holding certain items that are restricted under the National Firearms Act. There are several advantages in using revocable trusts to hold weapons and other components that come under the purview of Title II of the NFA.

We are working with Apple Law Firm, PLLC to help interested gun owners get an NFA Trust in place. You may want to go to NFA Gun Trust Lawyer Blog to find out more.

You will need a Class III license to own a Title II weapon and the BATF will not permit ownership of weapons that violate Washington State and other states’ firearms laws. Thus, you need to know the laws in more than one jurisdiction if you are interested in obtaining suppressors, automatic weapons and any other weapons that are restricted under federal and state laws. As time goes on, we will start posting more articles on such subjects.

Generally a Firearms trust only works for the weapons or class 3 items that are legal in the state where they will be stored unless the state laws permit businesses and trusts to own but not individuals. In Washington, a trust would not allow an individual to purchase a machine gun, but it would permit them to purchase an AOW (a separate category of restricted weapons) without the permission of the CLEO (a specific local/state law enforcement officer required under federal law to approve possession of certain items) and give the additional protections that a trust can offer.

While you are checking out the links, click on the link to a recent article on Why the Second Amendment Matters published in our local Federal Way Mirror.

See also The Living Constitution?

Plan to Ban Guns in Seattle, Washington

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels recently announced a plan to ban guns at all city facilities, including parks, Seattle Center and community centers. He was already kicking against the restrictions of Washington’s state preemption law- a state statute that absolutely restricts the regulatory authority of local governments when it comes to almost everything pertaining to firearms. The legislature’s rationale was to make sure that checkerboard laws do not make gun ownership and sales impracticable on a jursidiction by jurisdiction basis.

A man with a Concealed Pistol License injured two people in a shooting at the Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. Apparently there was some kind of scuffle, possibly occurring when someone decided to grab his weapon because of concerns about safety (something that should have been dealt with by the police- not self help- if the concern was well-founded). The incident became a triggering event for the Mayor to hold a news conference with Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske (also an advocate of further gun controls, Chief Kerlikowske is known around our area as the chief that let his weapon get stolen from his unlocked vehicle). Mayor Nickels declared “Our parks, our community centers and our public events are safer without guns.”

The executive order, which does not require City Council approval, will apply even to citizens with a concealed-weapon permit.

Violators will be considered trespassers and asked to leave city property, but the city does not have authority to impose fines or jail time (due to the above referenced preemption statute:

RCW 9.41.290
State preemption.

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.

Many state legislators are asking the state Attorney General’s Office to issue an opinion as to the Mayor’s announcement. The order directs city departments to report back to Nickels within thirty days with a plan to implement the policy, so the state AG’s office is reluctant to plunge into the fray where restrictions are contemplated but not actually imposed at this time.

According to one local news article, Nickels stated the city will start by posting signs in city buildings such as City Hall:

The mayor said he hopes the city will not have to require pat-downs or metal detectors in city buildings, but suggested those measures as a possibility for festival organizers of events such as Bumbershoot at Seattle Center.

“I would not be surprised if there is a challenge to our authority on this,” Nickels said. He said a recent lawsuit involving the city of Sequim may give him authority to ban concealed weapons on city property.

The Sequim case involved gun show operators that sued the City of Sequim for interference with contractual relations when the City required that the premises (the venue for the gunshow was owned by the City) would be restricted to gun sales by dealers only. The court held that where the City was acting in a capacity similar to a private business, imposition of some restriction on gun sales did not violate RCW 9.41.290.

See Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association v City of Sequim, 158 Wash.2d 342 (2006).

Many Washington localities have already been doing what Mayor Nickels wants to do. Cities like Federal Way have simply been violating the state preemption law without advertising it. The Mayor of Seattle thinks he can throw around enough weight to make the legislature cave-in to his fiat. The Washington State legislature is so heavily Democrat that it often seems impossible to block most of the Demsocratic majorities wishes.

So far, there have been enough Democrats from Eastern Washington and Republican stalwarts to hold the line on gun laws. Those “blue dog” Dem and GOP lawmakers must feel like the the boy with his thumb holding back a flood of firearms restrictions, but every year they manage to keep a number of laws (like gun show restrictions) from getting reported out of committee.

It is going to be interesting to see how the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in DC v Heller will impact the lawmakers in state capitals around the country. Already cities in Illinois and other states are amending their laws. Morton Grove, Illinois, for instance, is busy modifying its longstanding restrictions. If a future Court is composed of justices like Breyer, Souter, Ginsburg, Stevens and Kennedy the issues may be relitigated so the upcoming presidential election is critical!

The difference between Constiturional strict constructionists and those that worship at the altar of “the Living Constitution” is that conservatives obey judge-made laws even when we do not agree with them. Many of the media hacks have been denouncing DC v Heller as judical activism and Washington, DC announced that it will register revolvers but not semi-autos! To call such conduct passive-aggressive behavior is an understatement. It is more like lawlessness on the part of the authorities in Washington, DC. It is no wonder there is so much crime on the streets. When the powers that be are not setting criminals loose or spending our tax dollars to promote some new social lunacy, they are busy finding ways to prevent us from effectively defending ourselves.

By the way, people in the inner-cities are most often the victims of violence and are often afraid to testify in court. For such folks (like the citizens of Washington, DC), the issue of defending one’s home and family is not an academic exercise in pettifoggery and parsing legal hairs. Not with gangs of drug dealers ruling the streets.

In order to make such claims, the “newspapers of record” claim that it is settled Constitutional doctrine that the Second Amendment only protects state militias. If you said such a thing to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson or John Adams they would think you had lost your mind! So much for objectivity.

We need to start registering journalists; but just in the big cities, because that is where all the major journalistic crimes are being fomented. We can start with NYC and then move to Chicago, Washington, DC and San Francisco.

Every registered journalist will be required to keep a key-lock on his or her keyboard. If one of these journalists tries to defend herself in writing by calling me (or anyone like me) a right-wing fanatic, ignorant redneck or lawyer affiliated with the religious right, the feds should revoke his/her license and prosecute for brandishing an automatically-keyed writing utensil with intent to intimidate.

The First Amendment balancing test will apply, of course. I am not in favor of chilling freedom of speech!