Limelight: Washington Ceasefire
Re-calibrating gun control
By Daniel Levisohn
(Commentary by Yuri)
(Something tells me these people need to talk to the JPFO, or possibly a Warsaw Ghetto survivor, it might change their attitude a little bit. You'd also think they would learn a thing or two from Jewish history on the need to keep and bear arms. Instead, they stick they're heads in the sand and hope that everything turns out alright. -Yuri)
This upcoming weekend, employees of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle will quietly commemorate the one-year anniversary of the shooting at its downtown office building.
For Seattle’s Jewish community, July 28, 2006 was a traumatizing introduction to gun violence, both in the scale of the attack and in the alleged shooter’s anti-Semitic motivations. But, even as the shooting was premeditated with the goal of killing Jews, looking back it is also clear the event created waves outside of the Jewish community. For starters, several of the women shot that day were not Jewish, but had intertwined their lives with Jewish causes. Many non-Jewish organizations also came to the Federation’s aid. In a year scarred again and again by the indiscriminate murder of innocent people at the hands of men with guns, the shooting linked Seattle’s Jews to other victimized communities. From the Capitol Hill Massacre to the murder of young Amish schoolchildren to the rampage at Virginia Tech, America’s senseless tolerance of guns was on full display. Taken together, the bloodbaths should have provided a timeline of evidence that our nation’s gun laws need to change — fast.
(I agree. All gun laws are unconstitutional and need to be repealed immediately! -Yuri)
Sadly, transforming the United States of American is a process that is often frustratingly slow. In Washington State, a hope emerged that an overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature might actually make guns more difficult for dangerous people to acquire by passing a plug to the gun-show loophole — a hope driven by so much common sense, it is almost comical that such a law was not passed and remains a political dream.
(This just goes to show that even though the Democrats may be in charge, common sense will still prevail. -Yuri)
Washington Ceasefire is the organization that should be leading the effort to tighten Washington’s gun laws, but in the last few years its own leadership says it has “struggled in the wilderness.” But at a fundraiser on Tuesday, July 17 at the Big Picture, they made a show of beginning to change that. They’ve brought in a new board and a new executive director, Kristen Comer, a young lawyer originally from Spokane who has worked on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. They’ve also taken the first steps to revamp their strategy. Comer said that within five years we will see a reduction in the number of firearm deaths in Washington.
(The only way I see this happening is if more people start CCW'ing and/or the state makes it easier to carry concealed. Criminals love unarmed victims. -Yuri)
Jew-ish spoke with Comer a few days before the fundraiser.
Jew-ish: A lot of people thought that in 2007 the legislature might actually get something done about gun violence. Can you talk a bit about what happened?
K.C.: I think last year it was traditionally the things that make it difficult. A lot of the time there is not enough political will. The people in the legislature are concerned their constituencies will be upset with them if they enact certain types of gun-control measures, and oftentimes on the other side of the issue their voices are much louder than those who are on our side of the issue.
But I think the tide is changing specifically after the shooting at Virginia Tech. People are realizing there are many loopholes in our laws right now and there are many ways to prevent senseless acts of violence.
(First of all Kristen, my rights are not a loophole, and secondly, you know as well as anyone that if Cho's victims had been legally allowed to CCW on campus, that day at VT didn't have to end the way it did. -Yuri)
Jew-ish: How active was Jewish community on this issue?
K.C.: We certainly worked quite a bit with the Seattle chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women. When we had our committee hearing for the gun-show loophole legislation, I know there were many members of the Jewish community who came to Olympia and showed their support for the legislation. I know it’s also still on the radar screen of the Jewish community as an issue that is important and as an issue to address.
(I was there at that hearing and Pro rights supporters outnumbered those who would take our freedoms away 3:1. It was actually quite heartening. -Yuri)
Jew-ish: Is Washington Ceasefire changing its plans for this upcoming year?
K.C.: We are trying to recalibrate the organization right now because we are in the middle of a change. Our organization going forward is going to have a foundation based upon three different organizational categories: One is a legal component. That will include any sort of legal research to better define what sort of legislation would pass muster and be least likely to be challenged constitutionally in Washington State. We are doing our homework on that front. We are also doing legal research into policy areas we think might be successful that we haven’t considered before. For example, we are looking at how we might influence policy not only at the state level but on a local level as well. In Seattle or Spokane or wherever it might be.
(It's like the old saw about How to Boil a Frog. If you toss him into hot water he'll jump out, but if you bring the heat up gradually you'll have boiled frog for dinner. This just goes to show why even the smallest anti-gun law can be allowed to pass. As time goes on, more and more small laws add up to be one big law and we'll have lost our rights forever. -Yuri)
Jew-ish: Is there more leeway to work locally?
K.C.: That’s part of what we are looking at right now. We have created a legal committee that is staffed with several talented attorneys and we have them doing research right now to figure out what our best alternatives will be.
One of the other prongs is the legislative portion. That is really undefined right now. I think we will probably try to close the gun-show loophole again. (I'll see you in Olympia if you try this again Kristen! -Yuri) But our legislative agenda isn’t set yet for next year. We are going to be meeting with some of our allies in the legislator over the next couple of months to better define what our goals will be is ’08 and ’09 after the elections have occurred.
The third part is our learnedness component, and that’s just getting back to the facts. We know the facts are in our favor. We know that in the United Sates we have the weakest gun laws and the highest rates of gun ownership, and we also have the highest rate of gun violence of any industrialized nation. And we know we can change that. We are going to look at the facts, and try to take the issue into a more credible arena: this is what we know, and this is why gun violence is important to you as an individual person.
(Care to back up these assertions with facts Kristen? No? I didn't think so, because you have none! -Yuri)
Jew-ish: Has Washington Ceasefire focused on the gun-show loophole because the organization feels it is politically achievable or because it thinks it would have a big impact?
K.C.: I was not here when the organization set that as its primary legislative ambition. So I can’t speak as to why that specific policy choice was chosen over many others. But what I do know is that on the face of it seems like a very sensible regulation. If you are purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer and you have to undergo a background check, the same should be true when you are purchasing firearms at a gun show. There are many loopholes. It is just one in the many loopholes we have when enforcing the laws.
(Ignoring the fact that less than 1% of crime guns come from gun shows, she still lies. It doesn't matter whether you buy retail or at a gun show, if you buy from an FFL you still have to pass a background check. The only exception to this is private sales, and gun shows are not the only place that private sales are allowed. Many guns are sold at garage sales or through classified ad's. After she closes the "Gun Show Loophole" is she going to close the "Newspaper Loophole" too? -Yuri)
Jew-ish: Is there evidence that a significant portion of firearm violence comes through the gun-show loophole?
K.C.: The facts are very, very mixed and that is part of what we are pushing for this learnedness component of our new mission going forward. I know the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] put out a study a few years ago that showed that a significant portion of gun purchases at gun shows turn up later in crimes. It’s an easy way for people who can’t buy guns to show up and buy guns without a check.
(Again she lies. Show me the study Kristen. -Yuri)
Jew-ish: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?
K.C.: We feel there is a lot of really good momentum going in our direction and we think in the next couple of years this issue is going to change. We think that Virginia Tech was shocking to people and rightfully so. And [the House of Representatives] just passed its first major peace of what people are calling gun-control legislation last month. It was the first bill they passed in probably 10 years, since the assault weapons ban, so actually 13 years. So that’s very encouraging. We feel that that sort of momentum will trickle down to the state and local level. And we have a strong mayor and police chief who really believe in our cause, too.
(Notice the repeated dancing in the blood of the VT victims for her own political gain. She also neglects to admit that the "Assault Weapons Ban" only banned certain cosmetic features and the same guns continued to be sold with some minor changes. She further neglects to admit that very few if any crimes were actually committed with these so called "Assault Weapons". I'm surprised she doesn't come out and try to label them "Fully Automatic Machine Guns" like her pal Josh Sugarman.
Folks, we cannot for one second stop in our struggle to keep our rights from going the way of the DoDo. The anti-rights crowd will never stop, and neither should we.
Hmmm... I wonder if the Police Chief ever found his gun?