I just saw the sharp end of the NRA stick. Last week I had the honor of testifying against Initiative 594 and for I-591 in Olympia, WA. I-594 is a new gun-control bill sponsored by some “out of state big money groups” to add more restrictive universal background checks in WA St. I am sure you know who I am referring to NY? I-591 is basically a counter attack on 594 asking for the current laws to be left alone. Although a fanatic 2nd Amendment supporter in spirit, I have never been involved publicly at this level. I was minding my own business at my computer last Monday when I received a private message from a friend in AZ who is very involved politically with gun rights. Jaci asked if someone from the SAF (Second Amendment Foundation) in Seattle could contact me for some support. Not understanding fully what she was referring to I said sure. Not two minutes later I received a text, email, FB message and a phone call all at once! SAF founder, Allan Gottlieb and Brian Judy of the NRA not only asked me for support as a panelist, but to do so the very next day! I was to make a 90 second statement in front of the House and then the Senate. I dropped everything, wrote my statement and bored my poor husband Charles to tears with listening to and timing me.
These hearings may not have needed such a rallying of the troops to speak against I-594. But only two days prior 591 organizers found out through the grape vine that Gabby Giffords and husband were flying in to add their testimony. The NRA and SAF parties went in to overdrive and little sleep to organize a strong group of panelists to argue our case against 594. They included me to the list to represent not only the UU Rifle Team competitor view but the average recreational gun owner of Washington State view. Perhaps if the Legislature committee saw an un-stereotypical gun owner complain that her recreational rights would be taken away they would react differently. Of course we all know each member of office already has their vote but all of these theatrics are part of the process. The argument against 594 is to keep them from adding universal background checks on to any “transfers” of guns.
In detail, Initiative 594 wants to add extensive additional background check to any and all “transfers” of firearms. The problem with 594 is in all in the wording of the 18 page Bill. The word “Transfer” far reaches the act of me selling my gun to someone outside of a dealer. A transfer would cover a loan or sharing of my gun. Let’s say I want to take you with me to go shooting or hunting. You want me to teach you how to shoot and safe handling or you want to go hunting with me and you want to borrow my rifle in the process. The wording in 594 makes that “transfer” of my gun to you a criminal act for me. Just to borrow it or share it! The proponents for 594 in the hearings denied this fact wholeheartedly. They obviously had not read their own document. Brian Judy of the NRA read to them directly from the Bill exactly what it said. The two women on 594’s panel said “that is not the intention we have for this Bill.” Well then ladies, you may just want to double check your spelling because that is what it states. My statement to the Committee was that I often share and loan my equipment to students and new competitors to learn safe gun handling and to practice to get involved in the sport. 594 would make me a criminal for what I do.
No one wants bad guys and deranged mentally ill people to get their hands on guns. But they will find a way no matter how strict the laws are. Take a look at the gun crime rate in IL. Did you know that in all of the mass shootings that you are familiar with the shooters bought their guns legally from a dealer and passed federal background checks? And those that did not stole their guns? (Sandy Hook) The shooters in the Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, CO, The Jewish Federation and more all acquired their guns legally. Therefore, the argument for extended background checks would not make a difference in avoiding these terrible tragedies. The criminals and the mentally ill are the problem. Not their tools. But as I listened to Wa St. Senator Jeannie Darneille from Tacoma state she is deathly afraid of guns period, I knew that there was to be no convincing people like her to back off of gun control measures. They hate guns period. Our work to be done is to make those on the fence see the light. Those on the fence are the ones that only hunt, or only have a pistol, or only go to the range once in a while or who’s dad used to shoot, that all aspects of the 2nd Amendment need to be protected. Just because you don’t shoot an AR and it does not affect you does not mean you should vote against the right to own them. Do you want me to vote against one side of your First Amendment because I don’t like your choice of social media but as long as my social media choice is not affected that is it ok? It is all or nothing.
I watched as the media flocked en mass in the House committee room to use the tragic story of Gabby Giffords as “ammo” against the crazy gun rights supporters. On the news later that day and in The Seattle Times the next morning it showed Gabby in one image and the scowling guy who had a rifle openly slung over his shoulder in another. It is one’s right to open carry in this state. But it is just that we know the press will portray that person as the wack job, red-neck, bubba –gun- guy. I wish the press for once would show the mom with kids who carries concealed to protect herself and her family and teaches gun safety.
Doing my little part on behalf of our 2nd Amendment and the State of Washington was quite an experience. Although I have zero desire of becoming a lobbyist or running for office I will gladly be a voice for our fight against gun control measures. We predict that both Initiatives 594 and 591 will be dropped altogether in the Legislature. But both Bills have enough signatures to go on our November ballot. This fight is only beginning. Big dollars are funneling in to I-594 from the likes of Bloomberg. 591 is a grass roots effort. You may be hearing from me more in the months to come. I realize now how every individual voice and vote counts. The individuals and groups of the NRA and SAF work their tails off for this one cause. I have a huge appreciation for what they do.