Evergreen State gun rights activists are already bracing for what they expect will be the full exploitation of not one, but two park shooting incidents in July when the Legislature convenes in January; one that produced two fatalities at Lake Sammamish in Issaquah and the other that left one man wounded and seven people jailed in Pasco.
Over the weekend, several teens were involved in a fracas at Chiawana Park on the east shore of the Columbia River in Pasco during which guns were drawn, shots were fired, people were scrambling for cover and every cop in the countryside seemed to descend on the scene. The Sunday night caper involved alleged gang members who confronted a young man thought to be with a rival gang, according to accounts in the Tri-Cities Herald, which has covered this story in detail. It is also being discussed on the Northwest Firearms forum, here.
Arrested in the incident were David Reyes, Victor Farias, Ubaldo Reyes, Hector Farias-Alvarez, George Timothy Bernal and Carlos Ivan Salcedo-Valdivia, all 19, and Lorenzo Ricardo Fernandez, 18, the newspaper said. Each is being held at this writing for investigation on $100,000 bail each, according to a Pasco police spokesman. According to the newspaper, two of these guys – it isn’t clear which two – approached a man identified as Ronnie Lopez, pulled up their shirts and displayed handguns. Pasco police recovered three handguns at the scene, the spokesman said. These guys are among several people arrested over the weekend in the Tri-Cities area for gun-related crimes, the newspaper reported.
Judge Robert Swisher on Monday ordered (the suspects) all of Pasco, held for 72 hours while prosecutors review the case files and decide whether to file charges.-Tri-Cities Herald
Stop right there. Under existing state statute, none of these guys was legally carrying a handgun. They’re all under age 21 so they could not qualify for a concealed pistol license. Under another state statute, the two guys who lifted their shirts to reveal pistols were doing so to “intimidate another or…warrant alarm for the safety of other persons.” A lot of people seem to carry guns illegally, here and elsewhere, as this column discussed here. That’s an acknowledged problem, but gun prohibitionists do not seem to have a solution that doesn’t affect law-abiding gun owners.
Last week in the Seattle Times, Washington CeaseFire President Ralph Fascitelli capitalized on the fatal Lake Sammamish shooting incident – discussed by this column here – to push for a ban on guns in state, county and city parks and a closure of the so-called “gun show loophole.” There is no evidence that any of the guns recovered by King County Sheriff’s detectives were remotely connected to any gun show, but why bother with the details, right? Fascitelli, a native New Englander who came to Seattle by way of Ohio and California, and made a small fortune in advertising and public relations, suggested that park rangers could do “spot checks” (that must be gun prohibitionist-speak for “warrantless searches”) to make sure park visitors aren’t violating the park gun ban.
This column yesterday noted that Stan Rumbaugh, challenging Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson in the Aug. 17 primary election, revealed something of an activist bent when he stated during a candidate forum, “There are limits to any right. In modern times, we have drug wars, gang wars, we have the blood of our children being spilled in the streets and sidewalks of every town and city in Washington. And it is time to do something about it.” (And Rumbaugh is attacking Johnson as an “activist” on the bench? Oooookay.)
Johnson, who spent 20 years with the State Attorney General’s office, is a Washington native with a Harvard education, the Times noted. Rumbaugh is a transplant from Ohio who came out here in 1975 to attend law school and stayed. The Vancouver Columbian last week endorsed Johnson, and fellow incumbent Richard Sanders, both of whom are facing challenges.
If age did not bar teenagers from serving in the Continental or Union armies, how could it bar them from receiving full judicial protection for the rights they championed?” Johnson wrote.
Rumbaugh’s remarks had to do with Johnson’s separate concurring/dissenting opinion in a case earlier this year, State v. Sieyes, in which Johnson held that laws affecting the right to keep and bear arms should be subject to strict scrutiny. He also argued that the right to bear arms – protected by both the state and federal constitutions – should fully extend to minors.
The philosophical chasm between gun rights advocates and prohibitionists, and state Supreme Court justices and their challengers, is where the battlefield over firearm civil rights is being waged. It will likely heat up again in 2011.
Johnson has been a consistent protector of open government in his six years on the court and has earned the people’s confidence by defending our state’s superb primary system. He has a big advantage in experience; Rumbaugh has never served as a judge and is too closely tied to labor unions.—Vancouver Columbian
Firearms owners argue they are being made the scapegoats when illegally-armed thugs start shooting, whether in a park, on the sidewalk or any other venue. Teen hoodlums cannot legally carry guns, they note, so enforce existing law instead of passing some new measure that only ratchets down on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Fascitelli has already revealed his “solutions.” Perhaps Rumbaugh should elucidate on what he thinks that “something” is which should be done about violent crime involving firearms.
Maybe the Pasco police and Franklin County prosecutor have the right idea. Lock them up, investigate and then possibly charge and prosecute them. And leave everybody else alone in the process.
For more info: Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities. Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns. Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
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