Washington State Capitol building, Olympia. (Dave Workman)
Washinton – -(AmmoLand.com)- Evergreen State grassroots gun rights activists appear jubilant at the end of that state’s legislative session, and one leader in the fight against new gun control laws declared on social media, “Hot Damn, We Win!”
There were some onerous gun control laws passed, including one that creates a brand new “Office of Firearms Violence Prevention.”
However, the two “signature” measures sought by anti-gun Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson—a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines”—were defeated.
“Can you imagine how upset they are right now,” wondered Curtis Bingham in his post to a legislative action group on Facebook.
Rights activists are planning a major rally at the capitol in Olympia on April 18, the same weekend that the National Rifle Association was planning to hold its 149th annual members' meeting and exhibits in Nashville, but as AmmoLand News reported earlier, that convention has been canceled.
He congratulated the hard work of citizen activists that turned the tide and held the line. The lesson in this is that activism works. Instead of sitting on the couch and complaining, Evergreen State gun owners went to work, and at least some lawmakers listened, perhaps realizing they had poked the sleeping giant once too often.
But now there’s a new problem, and it has gotten the attention of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. At least some law enforcement agencies in Washington have suspended taking fingerprints to complete concealed pistol license applications, explaining that it is for the purpose of reducing the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus by person-to-person proximity.
AmmoLand News contacted a couple of agencies that have been identified by gun owners as suspending or at least paring back their CPL activity, some until April 1. However, that decision may be at odds with state statute, which clearly says in the first paragraph, “The issuing authority shall not refuse to accept completed applications for concealed pistol licenses during regular business hours.”
CCRKBA's Alan Gottlieb (Dave Workman photo)
“We’ve received reports from members and concerned citizens, especially in Washington State, that local law enforcement agencies are suspending license or permit application services, including the taking of fingerprints,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “That’s unreasonable because the right to bear arms shouldn’t be subject to administrative delays.”
Gottlieb said the city of Champaign, Ill., is also considering emergency regulations that would, among other things, prohibit people from selling or giving away firearms and ammunition.
Focusing on the suspension of the carry permit application process, Gottlieb observed, “There are ways to reduce the risk of disease transmission, such as wearing latex gloves and face masks and washing your hands. You can even spray disinfectant on an application form if necessary.”
And he quickly added with a wink, “We’re reasonably certain police agencies haven’t stopped processing and fingerprinting murder and rape suspects.”
President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday. His remarks came near the close of the Stock Market and evidently Wall Street liked what it heard because the Dow Jones shot upward as the final gavel fell.
With that, it may signal the start of a return to normal “business as usual,” but in the meantime, Gottlieb had a couple of suggestions.
“Anyone who is unable to renew his or her carry license should automatically have the expiration date extended,” he said. “No person who is prevented from applying for a permit should be arrested or prosecuted for exercising his or her right to bear arms for personal protection.”
One sheriff’s department spokesman told Ammoland that open carry is legal in Washington, and that is one option for citizens who is delayed from applying for a CPL.
“We understand and sympathize with police and sheriff’s departments in the current COVID-19 situation,” Gottlieb said.
However, he concluded with this caveat: “President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency doesn’t put our Constitution on hold.”
The bottom line lesson for gun owners everywhere, especially during the current coronavirus crisis is to stay vigilant.
Simply winning in the legislature by keeping some bad ideas from becoming law doesn’t win the war. And in an environment where a declared pandemic provides a backdrop for enacting emergency provisions that may somehow impair the exercise of a Constitutionally-enumerated right, it’s a battle with no end in sight.
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