Democrats and anti-gun activists in Washington State have already signaled their intent to go big on gun control when they return to Olympia in a few weeks, with a ban on so-called assault weapons listed as one of their top priorities in the new year.
The state’s army of grassroots Second Amendment activists will be out in force at the state capitol during any and all debates over new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, but they’re also busy (and seeing success) at the local level. In Kitsap County, commissioners recently floated the idea not only banning gun shows on county property, but making the county administration building a “gun-free zone” as well. Dozens of speakers turned out to testify in support and opposition to the idea, and based on the county’s conclusion I’d say the “nays” from the public were overwhelming.
In the announcement, the commissioners wrote, “The diversity of comments revealed how regulations regarding guns and gun shows can be polarizing but may also be used as an opportunity to discuss other important topics related to gun rights and public safety.”
The commissioners heard over 150 comments from both sides of the issue.
“I’ve never owned a firearm. I never feel like I need to own a firearm. I feel like our public safety officers do a perfectly good job of protecting us. I would like there to be less guns in our county,” one Kitsap County resident said. “I would like there to be less guns anywhere near my children, my family, my friends, and my loved ones.”
On the other side of the issue, one Kitsap County resident said that criminals “will not care what laws you pass” and will find another way to purchase a firearm.
“All you are doing is creating a barrier for the people in your county who want to protect themselves and their loved ones,” the resident said to the commissioners.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’ve covered how local governments talk about guns and gun control for a couple of decades now, and the county’s statement has a definite “We’d like to pass this but our constituents would toss us out of office if we did”-vibe about it to me.
I prefer that attitude over “our constituents will despise us but we’re gonna do it anyway,” frankly. As Milton Friedman once said, real change doesn’t just come about by putting the right person in office. It takes making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing in order to make that possible, and it looks like that’s exactly what the Second Amendment supporters in Kitsap County were able to do with this proposed gun ban.
This proposal likely wouldn’t even have been floated if there weren’t significant support from county commissioners, at least originally. But after hearing from residents these commissions came to the conclusion that its more politically advantageous for them to back off the ban, though they did through supporters a bone by saying they could always “re-evaluate the proposal” at some point in the future.
It may be a small victory compared to, say, the Bruen decision, but it’s still an important one. At the very least this is one less lawsuit we have to file (and find the money to pay for), and now the Kitsap County gun owners who were able to fend off this anti-2A measure can devote their time and attention to their state representatives and senators and the looming legislative fights over the right to keep and bear arms on the horizon. Their activism is already making a difference, and their voices will soon be joined by tens of thousands of other responsible gun owners from across the state in defense of their Second Amendment rights.