NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, April 10th, 2023

Firearm fanatics remind us that they believe guns should have more rights than people

Sat­ur­day’s pas­sage of an assault weapons ban by the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate is a big win for gun safe­ty in Amer­i­ca — a his­toric leg­isla­tive achieve­ment that will help pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties our com­mu­ni­ties from the scourge of gun violence.

Local firearm fanat­ics like Alan Got­tlieb and Dave Work­man don’t see it that way.

The Sen­ate’s vote has prompt­ed fresh howls of protest from them. On the same morn­ing that peo­ple were being gunned down in Louisville, Ken­tucky by anoth­er mass shoot­er, they were decry­ing SHB 1240 and promis­ing that would it be chal­lenged in court — an action Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son is expecting.

Here’s Got­tlieb:

“One or more law­suits chal­leng­ing this leg­is­la­tion will almost cer­tain­ly be filed with­in days, if not hours, of Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s sign­ing,” Got­tlieb pre­dict­ed. “Ulti­mate­ly, we expect this law to be nul­li­fied by the courts as a vio­la­tion of the Sec­ond Amend­ment and Wash­ing­ton State’s con­sti­tu­tion. In the mean­time, of course, Ever­green State gun own­ers will con­tin­ue to be treat­ed like sec­ond-class cit­i­zens by the self-right­eous zealots behind the ban, while the crim­i­nal ele­ment will remain unde­terred and unencumbered.

“Pro­po­nents of this leg­is­la­tion have tout­ed the results of a poll done last year by the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute show­ing that 56 per­cent of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sup­port a ban,” he con­tin­ued. “What they over­look is that con­sti­tu­tion­al rights are not sub­ject to pop­u­lar­i­ty polls, a fact we expect the courts to remind them about in the days ahead.

I guess Got­tlieb did­n’t both­er to watch the press con­fer­ence at which we unveiled our assault weapons ban polling, or he’d be aware that Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son dis­cussed the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the pro­posed ban with the press then as well as since. Got­tlieb is wrong in alleg­ing we haven’t giv­en it any thought.

Work­man, for his part, cit­ed an unsci­en­tif­ic poll (he even admit­ted it was unsci­en­tif­ic) as he grasped for some straws to hang his hat on:

An unsci­en­tif­ic online poll by KOMO News in Seat­tle — the region­al ABC affil­i­ate — revealed over­whelm­ing oppo­si­tion to the gun ban leg­is­la­tion, with 78 per­cent oppos­ing, 19 per­cent sup­port­ing and 3 per­cent “not sure.”

Con­trast that with our research and Sur­veyUSA’s, which is sci­en­tif­ic and does­n’t con­sist main­ly of respons­es from peo­ple who think like Work­man or Got­tlieb. KOMO’s online poll has no valid­i­ty; the data is meaningless.

For a law like SHB 1240 to stick, it has to pass muster in both the courts and the court of pub­lic opin­ion, because oppo­nents can be expect­ed to turn to both. Pub­lic opin­ion research — or, to use Got­tlieb’s phras­ing, “pop­u­lar­i­ty polls” — are thus very impor­tant and help­ful. They give us a very good indi­ca­tion of where the major­i­ty of the pub­lic stands. And it’s not with the firearm fanatics.

Got­tlieb and Work­man are very aware that the peo­ple are not on their side. They’ve seen gun safe­ty ini­tia­tives pass repeat­ed­ly (in 2014, 2016, and 2018) at the bal­lot. They have no rea­son to doubt our pub­lic opin­ion research.

So they are putting their faith in the courts, pro­ject­ing con­fi­dence that judges and jus­tices will agree with their warped inter­pre­ta­tion of the Sec­ond Amend­ment and Arti­cle I, Sec­tion 24 of the State Con­sti­tu­tion. In their view, pret­ty much any leg­is­la­tion that makes it hard­er to get a gun or fire a gun is unconstitutional.

They believe, in short, that guns should have more rights than peo­ple do.

Nev­er mind what our founders said. “We hold these truths to be self-evi­dent, that all men are cre­at­ed equal, that they are endowed by their Cre­ator with cer­tain unalien­able Rights, that among these are Life, Lib­er­ty and the pur­suit of Hap­pi­ness,” reads the Dec­la­ra­tion of Independence.

For firearm fanat­ics, those “unalien­able Rights” of peo­ple are a sec­ondary con­cern. More impor­tant to them than lives, lib­er­ty, or the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness is the man­u­fac­ture, sale, import, and avail­abil­i­ty of guns. It’s as if the guns are alive. The con­cern these firearm fanat­ics have for guns is real­ly something.

The more guns, the bet­ter; the more ammu­ni­tion; the bet­ter. There’s nev­er enough — and no amount of mass shoot­ings will make them feel dif­fer­ent­ly. In fact, after a mass shoot­ing, they argue that more guns is the answer, and they make sure that Repub­li­can state leg­is­la­tors lis­ten to them and act accordingly.

As firearm fanat­ics, these folks sub­scribe to a dif­fer­ent set of beliefs about fun­da­men­tal rights in our coun­try. They think that all guns are cre­at­ed equal.

Peo­ple are expend­able, guns are sacro­sanct. If a few Ken­tuck­ians won’t be going home to their fam­i­lies tonight, well, that’s just the price of free­dom… for guns.

Accord­ing­ly, they argue that we can­not ban weapons of war like the AR-15 rifle, even though those weapons have no use­ful pur­pose oth­er than effi­cient­ly killing human beings. (They cer­tain­ly are not need­ed to hunt “varmints,” as some Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors have lame­ly tried to argue at a few dif­fer­ent junctures.)

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son and Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Noah Pur­cell are expect­ing Got­tlieb and Work­man’s legal chal­lenges. They will be ready to defend SHB 1240 once it becomes law. As they have not­ed in their briefs to law­mak­ers (exam­ple), oth­er states’ assault weapons bans have with­stood con­sti­tu­tion­al scrutiny.

Con­necti­cut’s ban was chal­lenged around a decade ago; the Supreme Court’s right wing major­i­ty refused to take up the case in 2016.

June 20th, 2016:

The Supreme Court refused on Mon­day to hear a Sec­ond Amend­ment chal­lenge to a Con­necti­cut law ban­ning many semi­au­to­mat­ic rifles. The law, enact­ed in 2013 in the wake of the mass shoot­ing at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Con­necti­cut, made it a crime to sell or pos­sess the firearms, which crit­ics call assault weapons.

The deci­sion not to hear the case, not long after the mass shoot­ing in Orlan­do, Flori­da, does not set a Supreme Court prece­dent. But it is part of a trend in which the jus­tices have giv­en at least tac­it approval to broad gun-con­trol laws in states and local­i­ties that choose to enact them.

We don’t know the future, but we know we have an oblig­a­tion to each oth­er to stop the scourge of gun vio­lence in our coun­try. Assault weapon bans have so far been allowed to stand, even in the John Roberts — Samuel Ali­to era. It is nec­es­sary and appro­pri­ate that we put one on Wash­ing­ton’s books and con­tin­ue our work for even more sen­si­ble gun safe­ty leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect our people.

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