The Seattle Times, a newspaper that has hardly been friendly to the Second Amendment or Evergreen State gun owners, has once again ignited outrage among readers—and maybe soon-to-be-former readers—by insisting in an editorial the Legislature pass what it calls “common-sense bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
Critics of the Times, and other big city newspapers that reflexively support all manner of gun restrictions, accuse the press of using the First Amendment to attack the Second.
The majority of more than 430 responses coming within 24 hours of publication blistered the newspaper, while some support the notion of banning an entire class of firearms. Reading closely shows the editorial is loaded with catch-phrases from the gun control lexicon: “common-sense” laws, “gun reform” (instead of “gun control”), “gun violence killed,” and referring to modern semi-auto rifles as “assault weapons.”
The editorial declares, “Nine states and the District of Columbia already ban high-capacity magazines, and seven federal courts of appeal have upheld the laws. There is no reason for Washington not to follow.”
That doesn’t square with many responding readers, including one person using the nickname “elbeone” (a reference to the small community of Elbe, about 60 miles southeast of Seattle near Mount Rainier) who stated, “The banning of semi-autos from 1994 to 2004 had zero effect on the overall violent crime rate. That rate dropped by over half and continued downward after the ban was over. The right of individual self-defense predates the existence of any government, anywhere. The Fathers simply recognized it in our Constitution. It was already there, just not enumerated in ‘official’ writing.”
The editorial also argues, “Washingtonians have consistently shown they support gun reform. In 2014, almost 60% of voters authorized expanded background checks. In 2016, almost 70% voted to allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to remove guns from troubled people. In 2018, nearly 60% supported Initiative 1639’s set of firearms regulations, including raising the legal purchase age of a semiautomatic rifle to 21.”
What the Times does not say, and what appears to be a deliberate omission, is that I-1639 invented a definition for a “semiautomatic assault rifle” that literally applies to any semi-auto, regardless of caliber, design or appearance, ever manufactured anywhere in the world. There are no exemptions for rimfires such as the Ruger 10/22, or traditional hunting rifles such as the Browning BAR (not the military rifle), Remington 7400 or Winchester 100, and the Times knows it. Here is the language:
“‘SEMIAUTOMATIC ASSAULT RIFLE’ MEANS ANY RIFLE WHICH UTILIZES A PORTION OF THE ENERGY OF A FIRING CARTRIDGE TO EXTRACT THE FIRED CARTRIDGE CASE AND CHAMBER THE NEXT ROUND, AND WHICH REQUIRES A SEPARATE PULL OF THE TRIGGER TO FIRE EACH CARTRIDGE.”
Nearly two years ago, AmmoLand News quoted Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who opposed I-1639, explaining, “I was in the U.S. Army. My rifle was never called an ‘assault weapon.’ They passed this initiative to create that definition to include every semi-auto in the state.” At the time, he predicted there would eventually be an effort to ban “assault weapons” since the gun prohibition lobby now had a definition it could use. Knezovich’s prediction appears to have been correct.
The Times editorial also omits the fact, verifiable by a glance at the annual FBI Uniform Crime Reports, that the annual number of murders in Washington has gone up, not down, since passage of the billionaire-backed initiatives, while the number involving firearms has remained fairly steady.
Translation: Washington gun control laws have demonstrably failed. And with the rise in shootings and homicides in Seattle, Tacoma and other Washington cities, those gun control laws have not made anyone safer.
Yet, anti-gunners refuse to accept this fact. They argue, as did one Times reader, that the Second Amendment should only apply to single-shot rifles and pistols: “Clinging maniacally to the 2nd Amendment like it is a lifeline in order to retain the ability to own weapons of mass destruction is malicious and clearly wrong-headed…You might as well state I have a right to own a ICBM vs. a Revolutionary War-era cannon. The Second Amendment was written at a time when Gattling (sic) guns were decades down the road, much less the nasty toys easily available now. Anyone who needs to rattle off umpteen shots when hunting deer is no sportsman, or a really bad shot. The Second Amendment was written with a single-shot rifle or pistol in mind…”
Going along with the Times, anti-gun state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a Democrat with his eyes set on becoming the next governor, was quoted in the editorial contending, “I just don’t understand when people say, ‘well, that’s not going to really get at all the gun violence.’ Of course, it’s not…But it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel if we can’t even get bills like these across the finish line in Olympia.”
One thing the newspaper does acknowledge is that the gun control effort has failed even with Democrats in control of the Legislature. While editorial boards and extremist anti-gunners may believe all citizens and lawmakers should just obediently adopt their agenda, more than one Times reader offers reminders about the Constitution and the rights it protects.
The Washington Legislature convenes Monday, Jan. 10. This will be a 60-day session, and lawmakers are facing dozens of proposed measures dealing with firearms regulation. In 2021, Democrats pushed through a ban on open carry at rallies on the Capitol campus and other venues.
But Washington State anti-gunners are not finished, and the Seattle Times has their back.