In the wake of yesterday’s hearings on several bills containing exemptions to Initiative 594, the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (MDA) lobbying group gathered today in Olympia to push for more gun restrictions, while MoveOn.org launched a petition drive in an attempt to push the Washington Legislature to change state law and ban firearms in public libraries.
“The only way to keep firearms out of Washington public libraries is to change the state law,” the on-line petition appeal states. “Time to do it. Time to amend RCW 9.41.300 and add public libraries to the list of institutions where guns are banned!
“Washington is an open carry state,” the message adds. “The only public institutions where firearms are prohibited are schools, courthouses, jails, mental hospitals, and bars. Washington Courts ruled that public institutions, like libraries, may not ban guns. Courts also ruled that the only way to ban firearms at facilities in which children gather is through legislative action.”
Since last fall’s passage of Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure, the gun prohibition lobby is attacking Evergreen State gun rights on a variety of fronts. Tuesday’s visit to the Legislature by the MDA is also aimed at pushing more restrictive gun laws, and preventing erosion of I-594.
Yesterday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee held hearings on several measures aimed at exempting law enforcement, licensed security guards and active duty military personnel from the background check requirements of the initiative. But many in the firearms community quickly argued that there should also be exemptions for citizens with concealed pistol licenses, or no exemptions at all.
It does bring up a thorny issue. Why should police and private security get an exemption from an invasive, and some argue unconstitutionally vague and unenforceable law to which the rest of the population is subject? Why should police be exempt from a law they would be expected to enforce?
Why shouldn’t someone who has a CPL, which requires a background check to obtain, also be exempt? Just how many times should a citizen be subjected to a “guilty-until-proven-innocent” process simply in an effort to exercise a constitutionally-delineated fundamental civil right? Seattle Times readers are raising some interesting points about all of this here.
And why shouldn’t that citizen, minding his or her own business, be able to carry a defensive sidearm in a peaceable manner into a public library? Why should MoveOn.org want to make libraries “rights-free zones?” This isn’t about posing for provocative photographs in front of book shelves. It’s about quietly reading, doing research, or perusing the titles.
What about the single mom who may be studying for a degree to get a better job, at night with her child in tow, because that’s the only time she has? Does MoveOn have some moral high ground to say she loses her right to self-defense by entering a public library after dark?
Anti-gun groups cannot petition away the civil rights of people they don’t like. Regardless what they think happened last November, the gun ban crowd was not given a green light to trample the state and federal constitutional right to keep and bear arms provisions.
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