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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: gun control

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December 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

A glimpse inside Washington’s gun culture after Initiative 594

On Saturday morning, I found myself surrounded by knives, guns and ammo. Lots and lots of it.

Photo by Thanh Tan

Photo by Thanh Tan

I went with some friends to check out the first gun and knife show in Centralia since the roll-out of Initiative 594 on Dec. 4. The new law, passed overwhelmingly by a majority of voters, closes the “gun show loophole.” Under current federal law, background checks are required only for sales by licensed firearms dealers. I-594 expands those background checks to private transfers or sales, common to gun shows.

“Remember to dress Lewis County and not Seattle-USC,” my friend text messaged me beforehand. I think I blended in just fine, other than the fact I was one of only two people of color there. At the entrance of the venue, a huge sign read “NO LOADED GUNS.” Security guards at the entrance provided zip ties to help people lock guns they wanted to bring inside to trade.

Once inside, the whole thing felt like an indoor swap meet. The place had the festive mood of a holiday bazaar with a whole lot of camo colors. For about an hour, we perused aisles and aisles of rifles, shotguns, bullets, stun guns, handcrafted knives, holsters, jackets, war paraphernalia, National Rifle Association pamphlets on Second Amendment rights, and even dehydrated food for hunters. I could purchase an AR-15 assault-style rifle for $600. Or perhaps three gun cleaning kits for $90, as advertised in a sign that enticed buyers with this friendly reminder: “X-mas is coming! Best present ever! Will fit in man’s stocking!”


Comments | Topics: gun control, gun shows, gun violence

June 27, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Video: A debate about gun initiatives I-591 and I-594

Corrected version Confused about the two state initiatives coming in the Nov. 4 election about gun control and gun rights? Check out our editorial board interviews with supporters and opponents of Initiative 591 and Initiative 594. TVW produced video of the interviews. Initiative 591 would prevent Washington state from background checks for gun buyers that are stricter…


Comments | Topics: gun control, initiative 591, initiative 594

January 3, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Poll: Which Washington state gun control initiative do you support?

Washingtonians have a history of confronting controversial issues head-on through ballot measures.

A protestor holds American flags during a demonstration in favor of gun regulation outside of the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas. More than 70,000 peope are expected to attend the NRA's 3-day annual meeting that features nearly 550 exhibitors, gun trade show and a political rally.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A protestor holds American flags during a demonstration in favor of gun regulation outside of the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Voters in recent years have affirmed same-sex marriage and legalized recreational marijuana. This past November, the city of SeaTac’s electorate raised the minimum wage for airport workers to the highest level in the nation.

On deck: Gun control. Not just one initiative. Two!

Expect the dueling measures to spark a passionate, attention-grabbing and expensive debate, which will begin during the legislative session and likely extend through the November elections. Here’s Seattle Times reporter Brian Rosenthal’s latest news story on the signature-gathering process. The secretary of state’s office reports both initiatives have more than enough signatures to qualify for a place on the November ballot.

Initiative 594 would require background checks for all sales. Initiative 591 would limit mandatory checks to sales by licensed dealers and prohibit government officials from removing guns from citizens without due process.


Comments | Topics: elections, gun control, initiative 591

December 16, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Chaining mental health reforms to gun control is a failed strategy

The serial tragedies of gun violence perpetrated by young men provoke two responses, depending on which adjective you focus on: gun or mentally unstable.

A memorial in Newtown, Conn., one year later. / ASSOCIATED PRESS

A memorial in Newtown, Conn., one year later. / ASSOCIATED PRESS

I ranted in October that proposed public policies to address recent shooting incidents got lost in the shouting about the first adjective. Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, were culpable because they wouldn’t decouple mental health improvements from the gun issue, believing, I suspect, that is the only way the latter will pass.

Well, something happened last week that gives me hope.


Comments | Topics: democrats, gun control, mental health

November 27, 2013 at 6:10 AM

Discounts and holiday cheer for gun-safety devices

Leadership is all about getting out in front of controversial issues, even when the best of intentions are often willfully misread. A holiday campaign to reduce the threat of gun violence for children via discounts on gun safes, lockboxes and trigger locks is an absolute winner.

King County leaders announce a gun-safety initiative with a holiday theme. (Seattle Times Photo/Greg Gilbert)

King County leaders announce a gun-safety initiative with a holiday theme.
(Seattle Times Photo/Greg Gilbert)

The “Safe Storage Saves Lives” campaign developed by Public Health – Seattle and King County is an inspired effort to promote the use of safety devices on weapons kept in thousands of homes. Congratulations to public health director  Dr. David Fleming, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Sheriff John Urquhart, participating gun dealers, and 20 participating law enforcement agencies for stepping forward Monday to promote the ideal holiday shopping event. Thank you.

As explained at this King County site, starting November 25, 2013 through December of 2014, mention Public Health or LOK-IT_UP and receive 10-15 percent off select storage devices or lock boxes at participating retailers. The initial list of 15 shops and their locations is at the site.

Proximity to firearms is reflected in tragic statistics available for review via this county link. Homicides, accidents and suicides aided and abetted by easy access to weapons.  The risks and hazards are compounded students who show up on school grounds with guns from home. 


Comments | Topics: gun control

November 26, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Civil Disagreement: Washington Supreme Court on gun rights for an accused shooter

Civil Disagreement is an occasional feature of the Seattle Times Editorial Page. Here editorial writers Lynne K. Varner and Bruce Ramsey come down on opposite sides of a recent Washington Supreme Court ruling supporting state law forbidding guns to persons arrested for, but not yet convicted of, a gun crime.


Comments | More in Civil Disagreement, Pro/con | Topics: crime, gun control, gun rights lobby

October 21, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Another school shooting shifts the conversation to gun control, but for how long?

Matt Harrington/Op Art UPDATE: One of the two people killed in the Nevada middle school shooting was a teacher who stepped in to protect his students. This Huffington Post story has the details. The teacher’s death may renew ridiculous suggestions by the National Rifle Association that teachers should be allowed to carry a gun or at least have one…


Comments | Topics: barack obama, children, democrats

September 19, 2013 at 11:21 AM

The gun-free zone program is an effort in futility

(Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art)

(Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art)

Editor’s note: Osa Hale is an intern in our opinion section. She just graduated from Western Washington University.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and the organization Washington CeaseFire have introduced a “Gun-Free Zone” program, encouraging businesses to exercise their rights to ban guns from their private property. This is a quick and easy attempt to stand up to gun violence.

Starbucks said Tuesday it would join the gun-free program in an open letter from Chief Executive Howard Schultz.

Although it makes sense to try to remove guns from the equation, the gun-free program seems like trying to bail out a sinking ship with a leaky bucket. It’s better than nothing, but not by much.

Gun-rights advocates like Alan Gottlieb, who founded the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, see the program as all flash and no substance.

“[The mayor] could do lots of other things to prevent crime,” Gottlieb said. “Punish those people who misuse firearms, not those who own and use them properly.”

Gottlieb went on to say the program could actually endanger customers.


Comments | Topics: gun control, mike mcginn, starbucks

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