A Washington State editorial writer is sounding awfully defensive about the state’s new ban on so-called assault weapons; asserting that the only reason to oppose the ban is selfishness on the part of gun owners. But the rhetoric from the Tacoma News-Tribune‘s Matt Driscoll doesn’t match the reality of the growing opposition to bans, even among non-gun owners.
As we noted earlier this week, yet another poll has now found declining support for a federal “assault weapons” ban, including among Democrats, younger voters, and yes, even those who don’t own a modern sporting rifle of their own. According to Driscoll, however, there’s only one reason why anyone would object to making the sale of commonly-owned firearms illegal.
Governor Jay Inslee, flanked by a team of beaming liberal lawmakers and supporters, signed the historic bill into law, making Washington the 10th state to implement such a ban, effectively immediately.
Of course, the flashbulb media event — which included the signing of two other contentious pieces of gun-related legislation — also fanned the flames of our long-simmering Second Amendment debate.
But you know what? Forget about our fractured politics for a moment and, instead, consider what Washington’s newest gun law will actually do. Just as important, contemplate the little it asks of citizens in return.
In light of the tragedies we’ve seen time and time again, is there anything radical about Washington’s ban on the sale of assault weapons? Of course not.
There’s just a litmus test: Either you believe your perceived individual freedoms outweigh the overall safety of society and our children, or you don’t. It’s that simple.
No, it’s really not. It’s entirely possible to believe that Washington State’s new ban is both unconstitutional and an ineffective response to active shooting incidents, most of which are committed by killers using handguns. In fact, as the FBI reported last year, the state with the most active shooting incidents in 2022 has also had an “assault weapons” ban in place since the late 1980s. Despite Driscoll’s baseless assertions, there are plenty of reasons to believe that an “assault weapons” ban is a terrible way to improve public safety without selfishness entering into the equation.
But Driscoll’s emotionally manipulative drivel is also contradicted by another move made by Washington legislators this year. While the Democratic majority was banning the sale of so-called assault weapons in the name of public safety, they’re also legalizing every illicit drug starting on July 1st despite soaring overdose death rates across the state.
Seattle is the latest city across the state to tackle drug possession laws after state lawmakers couldn’t agree on a compromise following a state Supreme Court ruling in 2021 that made the state’s felony drug possession statute unconstitutional. It’s been a misdemeanor ever since, but that’s set to end and drug possession would become legal statewide on Jul. 1.
Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison and Seattle City Councilmembers Sara Nelson and Alex Pederson are behind the legislation modeled after a similar ordinance passed in Bellingham this month.
“This legislation acknowledges the public health crisis of substance use disorder and will provide a new tool to engage those using drugs in public. In 2022, there were 589 overdose deaths in Seattle, with the majority attributed to fentanyl and methamphetamines,” a news release about the legislation said.
The proposed ordinance would make using a controlled substance in public a misdemeanor, excluding marijuana.
It does not cover drug possession.
There were 52 homicides in Seattle last year, and firearms of any kind were involved in about 3/4 of the cases. The drug overdose death rate is more than ten times higher than the murder rate, and yet the Democratic majority in Olympia just voted to legalize possession (and use) of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other drugs already banned under federal law.
Using Driscoll’s “logic” those Democrats must selfishly care more about their own access to these deadly drugs than the 2,500 lives cut short by overdosing, right? I mean, what other reason would they have for allowing the possession of fentanyl and other opioids at a time when the overdose death rate is exploding across the state? According to the CDC, the state’s homicide rate in 2021 was 4.5 per 100,000 people. The overdose death rate? 28 per 100K; more than five times higher than the murder rate.
Now, I don’t think the move to legalize drugs was done out of selfishness any more than I believe that’s what’s driving the opposition to the state’s new ban on modern sporting rifles. But there is a clear double standard at work here; when it comes to addressing drug overdoses Democrats want “harm reduction” strategies that don’t involve criminal penalties for possession or use, but when dealing with violent crime they adopt a “ban our way to safety” approach that targets legal gun owners while ignoring and excusing the actions of violent and prolific offenders.
Drug overdose deaths are far more common in Washington State than homicides, especially those committed by individuals who use an “assault weapon”. It’s my opinion that the Democratic response to the increases in violent crime and drug overdose deaths are driven by stupidity and public relations and not selfishness, but both moves are likely to make the state a more dangerous place in the months ahead.