UPDATED: The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to adopt a special gun and ammunition tax, and a stolen gun reporting requirement that opponents insist will violate state law, and with potential lawsuits on the horizon.
Both measures passed after several members of the council commented on the need to prevent so-called “gun violence,” without explaining how either measure would do that. The issue is almost certain to take the city back to court on the grounds of state preemption. Second Amendment activists are wondering what might be next from this anti-gun municipality.
Perhaps someone at city hall picked up on a blog posted over the weekend by a self-described New Jersey gun rights advocate who proposed a six-point plan that includes federal gun registration, national seven-day waiting period, wide expansion of so-called “gun-free zones,” and mandatory jail time for repeat offenders. If anti-gunners are anything, they’re predictable, and the suggestions rolled out by author Matt Sweetwood could easily become fodder for “what’s next.”
Sweetwood’s piece was headlined “The Dad Who Won Landmark Supreme Court Gun Case Proposes 6-Step Solution to End Gun Violence.” It has already stirred several negative responses. But it is the kind of thing that might fit right into the national gun control debate. Sweetwood’s column was published online Saturday by The Good Men Project. His plan may make activist gun owners bristle, and maybe not. It depends upon one’s perspective. See below.
But before gun rights advocates get fired up over Sweetwood’s six-point plan, first they have to deal with Seattle’s frontal assault on state preemption. Already, according to various reports, at least one gun shop in Seattle is considering moving outside the city and taking possible legal action. Indeed, there has been much discussion about lawsuits since the proposal was first revealed.
The council meeting begins at 2 o’clock, but the vote may not come for a while, pending any discussion. On the table is a proposed $25 tax on the sale of any firearm, plus a nickel-per-cartridge tax on ammunition. Proponents led by Council President Tim Burgess estimate the city could take in $300,000 to $500,000 annually to finance its gun control projects, but critics believe the math is faulty at best.
If gun shops, including the famous Outdoor Emporium – which draws customers to Seattle from all over the region – pull stakes and relocate, the city won’t make money, it will lose revenue. If there is a lawsuit and the city loses, it will cost taxpayers even more money to pay the legal bills of the plaintiffs.
The city has already challenged state preemption, and the city lost. The issue is different – a tax rather than a ban on guns in city park facilities – but the principle remains the same. Under the 33-year-old state preemption statute, which has been a model for other such state laws around the country, only the legislature has the authority to regulate firearms. Local governments cannot pass stricter regulations than state law allows.
Seattle officials apparently see it differently. If they are successful this time around, it probably won’t be long before they try something else. Perhaps the council will put forth a resolution calling on Washington’s congressional delegation to endorse Sweetwood’s suggestions to “end gun violence,” which include:
- A Federal database of all guns and gun owners.
- Seven-day waiting period on gun purchases, and background checks on every purchase.
- Elimination of unregulated gun selling / trading events. Every gun sold needs to be in the Federal registry.
- A uniform standard for gun ownership. “Currently,” Sweetwood wrote, “it is left in the discretion of local authorities who sometimes error incorrectly either way. If you have committed an aggravated felony you can’t have a gun. If you have mental health issues you get a hearing to determine your status. If you don’t fall into those categories, you can’t be denied a gun.”
- Searches to enter public venues including sports stadiums, theaters, shopping malls, etc. Says Sweetwood, “Let’s do as the Israelis do. Currently, here in the USA, most sports arenas have searches on the way in. That needs to be effectuated on any public place where there are crowds. In Israel, you can’t enter a movie theater, bar, mall, etc., without bags being searched and wanded by a metal / bomb detector.”
- Mandatory minimum jail sentences for any crime committed with a gun. Sell drugs while carrying a gun and get 10 years in prison – do it again, get 20 years. “We need to let the bad guys know, gun crime gets you real time,” Sweetwood says.
Sweetwood calls himself “The Voice of Single Fathers.” He writes that he is “pro-gun, pro-constitution and anti-violence,” and “I despise that our second amendment (sic) rights are justly being questioned, as most civilized folk are desperate to stop the cycle of gun crimes.”
Before being too judgmental about Sweetwood’s recommendations, read his column, which describes his problems under New Jersey law and how he had to fight a years-long court battle. The Garden State is a weed patch of gun control that is frequently used as the example of government out of control regarding the Second Amendment. This column has reached out to Sweetwood and is awaiting a response.
MEANWHILE, once again, a major newspaper — this time the Friday edition of the Boston Globe — has used its opinion page to repeat what has become essentially an urban legend, that “40 percent of all gun sales” are conducted without a background check.
The Globe editorial stated, “Gun control advocates point out that 40 percent of all gun sales are exempt from background checks because the seller is a private party operating online or at gun shows.” Why did the Globe quote this without checking?
The newspaper might be excused were it not for the Washington Post Fact Checker noting more than two years ago that the 40 percent claim rated three of four Pinocchios. That is, the assertion is based on such faulty information that it is tantamount to a canard. At the time, it should be noted, the Washington Post was criticizing the use of that figure by President Barack Obama.
This is another in a series of factual errors about guns and gun control by newspapers that earlier this year prompted the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms to raise an alarm, accusing anti-gunners of “essentially cooking the books.”
The WaPo had criticized lawmakers in Oregon following a school shooting there over the use of data produced by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety as though it were gospel. Here’s what the Bellevue-based group said at the time:
“The newspaper criticized lawmakers for using data from an advocacy group without checking more credible sources. It said the Everytown group ‘uses a broad definition of school shooting: when a firearm is discharged on school or campus grounds at K-12 schools and colleges.’ Last year, PolitiFact Oregon noted that while Everytown does not include ‘incidents in which guns were brought into schools, but not fired there, or were fired off school grounds after having been possessed in schools,’ its data at the time did include a homicide that happened during summer vacation in Tennessee, and a Georgia incident in which a college student was killed off campus.
“When this question was first raised last year,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb recalled, “the estimate should have been dismissed forever as bogus. But instead, this canard has assumed the status of urban myth.
“All it takes is some basic math skills and a little research,” he said at the time. “Our hats are off to the Washington Post fact checker for doing its homework. One school shooting is a tragedy, but to broadly define such incidents in order to pad the numbers is simply dishonest.”
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