Saturday, March 17, 2012

GOAL Post 2012-11, The Blood Dancing Continues

 From: Joe Waldron []
To: undisclosed-recipients:
 Re: GOAL Post 2012-11
Legislative Update from Olympia
16 March 2012

  • RCW 9.41.050 -- READ AND HEED

The legislature was called back into special session by Governor Gregoire on Monday, 12 March.  Purpose of the session is to pass a supplemental budget, something the legislature failed to do in the 60-day regular session.  But that doesn't stop them from raising other issues.  Fortunately, budgeteers are meeting off-line, and only pro-forma floor sessions are held every 2-3 days. 

Fueled by the recent accidental shooting deaths of children in Snohomish and Pierce counties, Senator Adam Kline has been running around Olympia trying to generate enough votes to pass SB 6628, the bill he filed just before the end of the regular session -- and right after the Bremerton school shooting.  Several newspapers have jumped on the bandwagon, demanding legislators "stand up to the NRA" and "do something." 

Of course, the legislature DID do something.  In the late 1990s,after an earlier accidental shooting death, it  unanimously passed Senate Joint Memorial 8009 (which I wrote at the request of then-Representative Tom Campbell (R-2)).  SJM 8009 recommended to the Superintendant of Public Instruction that she (former SPI Judith Billings) adopt and promote the NRA's "Eddie Eagle" gun safety program in elementary schools.  "Eddie Eagle" doesn't teach kids how to shoot -- it's a gun avoidance program aimed at 6-12 year olds, and teaches the mantra to children who find a firearm, "Stop," "Don't touch," "Leave the area" and "Tell an adult.  Eddie Eagle has been around for 20 years now, and has been presented to millions of school children nationwide.  But not in Washington.  SPI Billings ignored the memorial, as have her successors.

Two more negligent (NOT accidental, negligence was the obvious factor in both cases) shooting deaths over the past week have further incited the mainstream media and anti-gun politicians to pass a gun law, any gun law.  An article in the Seattle Weekly sums it up well:

In all three cases, a parent whose most fundamental duty was the protection of their child ignored common sense and left loaded firearms around unsupervised children.  We tell parents to "child-proof" their homes, lock up items such as bleach, insect poisons, etc, install caps on wall electrical sockets, put gates at the top of stairs, etc.  It's just common sense, right?  So is securing your firearm if you're not there with it to prevent a tragedy.  Now we have two adults awaiting felony charges for unlawful possession of a firearm and three sets of parents grieving the loss or serious injury of a child. 

Correction:  I incorrectly reported that both the non-custodial mother and the mother's boyfriend of the 9 year old who stole the pistol involved in the Bremerton school shooting were convicted felons.  That was only half correct.  The mother had a previous felony conviction, the boyfriend (who owned the stolen handgun) did not.  But BOTH have been charged with a felony violation of RCW 9.41.040.  And the mother DID have loaded firearms in the home where the boy was visiting.

RCW 9A.36.050 states, in part, "(1) A person is guilty of reckless endangerment when he or she recklessly engages in conduct not amounting to drive-by shooting but that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person."  ANY CONDUCT.  An act of commission (something you do) or omission (something you fail to do) that a reasonable person would realize creates a substantial risk.  If you choose to keep a loaded firearm nearby for personal protection, you assume the responsibility to maintain constant awareness of the firearm and anyone who might access it.  With every right goes responsibility to exercise that right properly.  As an NRA-certified firearms safety instructor I teach people that guns should be secured when not in use.  Keeping a loaded firearm out for protection is a legitimate form of "in use," but with that goes the added responsibility of constant awareness.  Stashing a loaded handgun in an unlocked console or glove box or under the seat and then leaving unattended children in the vehicle IS A CRIME. 

Just for the record, the following data was provided by the Washington state Department of Health.  The figures cover accidental deaths of children 14 and under from 1992 to 2009 (the latest year full data is available).  Of the eight leading causes of accidental death among children, firearms are LAST.  Over the 18 year average, motor vehicle accidents rank #1 with 36.8 deaths, drowning second with 17, suffocation/choking third at 16, fire/smoke/flames take 9 lives a year, pedestrian accidents 3, falls and poisoning at 2.3 each, and last firearm accidents at 1.3.  These same trends are true nationwide.

SB 6628   Firearm security   Kline (D-37)    S. Judiciary


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"The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men."

Article 1, Section 24
Constitution of the State of Washington

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