Tonight, a state anti-gun group called Washington Ceasefire will be holding a “gun reform” panel where the public is invited to engage panelists in a conversation about gun rights in Washington State. Currently, panelists consist of several anti-gun individuals, including President of the Brady Campaign, Dan Gross. This event will be held downstairs at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and there is an entry fee of $5, which goes to Town Hall Seattle for production costs.
Initiative 594 is likely to be brought up tonight. As previously reported, I-594 is a universal handgun registration scheme being promoted by a very wealthy group of anti-gun elitists who have already raised nearly $1.4 million to qualify this initiative. Although they describe it as a “universal background check” measure, it is not “universal” because criminals will never comply with its requirements. It is, however, universal handgun registration. Under I-594, every time a handgun is transferred, the person receiving the handgun will have their name added to the government database being maintained by the state Department of Licensing.
Further, virtually every firearm transfer - with very few and limited exceptions - would be required to go through a licensed firearms dealer under the provisions of I-594. I-594 will specifically regulate transfers, not sales. Under the language of I-594, in virtually all cases, a person merely handing his or her firearm to a family member or a friend cannot do so without brokering the transfer through a gun dealer with the accompanying paperwork, fees, taxes and in the case of handguns, state registration. I-594 also doubles the state waiting period on handgun sales from five to ten days and extends it to every private transfer of any handgun!
Initiative 594 stalled in the state Capitol as the Washington Legislature adjourned their 2014 session. However, the fight is just beginning as the deeply flawed I-594 will now go to the November Ballot. Members are urged to attend this event and make inquiries of the panelists. Example questions for members are provided below:
Example Questions for Washington Ceasefire Event
On Universal Checks Failing to Deter Criminals
When the vast majority of criminals who use guns to commit violent crimes defeat the background check system by acquiring their guns through theft, from the black market, or from straw purchasers and other family members and friends, and when only a small percentage of people who try to buy guns illegally through the background check system are dangerous enough to be prosecuted, what would be the benefit of expanding the background check system to apply to firearm transfers that are not already covered by the background check requirement?
(Surveys conducted in 1991, 1997 and 2004 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that most criminals put in state prison for gun crimes acquired their guns through theft, the black market, and family members or friends. The BATFE reported in its “Following the Gun” report that half of all illegally trafficked firearms were purchased by straw purchasers.)
On Universal Checks Leading to Registration
Mr. Gross, have you ever discussed with your colleagues at the Brady Campaign, the idea that if background checks were expanded to apply to all firearm transfers, your organization could then call for retention of background checks records permanently, and/or that such records could be required to include the make, model and serial number of the firearm or firearms transferred?
(In the 1970s, Gross’ organization openly supported banning handguns and said that in its view, any law prohibiting the possession of handguns would have to be preceded by a handgun registration law. If the NICS requirement were expanded as hypothesized above, it would inarguably create a registry of firearm purchases, which over time would morph into a registry of firearms possessed. Several years ago, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., proposed retention of approved NICS check records for 180 days, which obviously would have been a step in that direction.)
On “More Guns, Less Crime”
Mr. Gross, some years before you were hired by the Brady Campaign, back when the American people owned between 40 and 50 million handguns, your organization predicted that the number of handguns would double to 100 million and that crime would rise. Since then, the number of handguns owned by the American people has indeed doubled to 100 million, but the nation’s violent crime rate has dropped to a 42-year low, and the murder rate is at a 49-year low. How do you explain your organization’s fundamental error?
(This prediction was made in propaganda brochures published by the National Council to Control Handguns and Handgun Control, Inc., the previous names of the Brady Campaign: “There are now 40 million handguns owned by private individuals in the United States—about one gun for every American family. At the present rate of proliferation, the number could build to 100 million by the year 2000 (which isn’t as far off as you think). The consequences can be terrible to imagine—unless something is done.” (NCCH, “There is now a nationwide, full-time, professional organization to battle the gun lobby!” pamphlet, no date, but circa 1975.) In 1979, when the Brady Campaign was known as Handgun Control, Inc., it updated its prediction, saying, “Right now over 50 million HANDGUNS flood the houses and streets of our nation. . . . HANDGUN production and sales are out of control. . . . If we continue at this pace, we will have equipped ourselves with more than 100 million HANDGUNS by the turn of the century. One hundred million HANDGUNS. Will we be safer then?” (HCI pamphlet, “By this time tomorrow, 24 Americans will be murdered,” circa 1979 or 1980.))
On Brady Campaign Exaggerations
Your group characterizes firearm-related deaths as an “epidemic,” but the definition of an “epidemic” is a “widespread occurrence of an infectious disease.” While suicide might be considered prima facie evidence of a mental health disease, half of all suicides are committed without firearms, and studies have shown that reduced access to firearms does not reduce suicides, but rather may only force suicide victims to end their lives by other means. Japan, for example, has virtually no privately owned firearms, but has a much higher suicide rate than the United States.
Murders and accidental deaths involving firearms obviously are not diseases. And neither they, nor firearm-related suicides, are widespread. Why do you and other gun control supporters feel that it is necessary for you to misuse words in order to exaggerate the negative things associated with firearm ownership?