A Seattle police official quickly scotched a suggestion earlier this year that citizens with concealed pistol licenses be monitored; just one revelation about how Mayor Mike McGinn’s staff feels toward gun owners that has emerged from e-mails obtained by the Second Amendment Foundation under a Public Records Act request.
In addition one e-mail expressed the opinion that the National Rifle Association is an organization that does “dirty work” for the firearms industry, and another suggested that inquiries from Second Amendment activists should be ignored.
SAF had asked for all records related to the recently-launched Gun Safety Initiative and the Jan. 26 Seattle gun buy back. Members of the mayor’s staff did not respond to calls and e-mail requests for comment.
The SAF request was for e-mails and documents related to the city’s gun buyback program, which came in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
One person who did respond to a joint inquiry from The Gun Mag (TGM) and Examiner.com was Seattle’s new interim Police Chief Jim Pugel, who explained that a cautionary Jan. 25 message he sent to McGinn’s Chief of Staff Julie McCoy and Public Affairs Director Beth Hester, was in response to what may have begun as an inquiry from a constituent.
The inquiry or suggestion apparently had to do with police monitoring of citizens with concealed pistol licenses, an idea Pugel quickly discouraged in his e-mail.
“From my recollection,” he said, “I don’t think it incubated in the mayor’s office. I think it came to the mayor’s office.”
Pugel’s note essentially raised a red flag about randomly checking CPL holders for no reason. He told McCoy and Hester, “Let’s talk more about running monthly checks on those issued CPLs, as we would be running otherwise law abiding citizens in criminal data bases. There would be a law question there and then a fiscal note as to building up staff to do it.”
In a telephone interview, Pugel recalled that, “Everyone was brainstorming on what could be done. I don’t know who mentioned it. I believe someone had called records and data. It somehow funneled up to me that someone was asking to do that.
“We’re not allowed to touch a law enforcement data base unless we have a legitimate investigation,” he explained. “We can’t just go fishing up stuff. Somehow it wound its way up to Julie, and that’s when I said, ‘Hey, we’ve really got to talk about this’.”
That someone might think it allowable to somehow monitor CPL holders indicated that they did not understand the issues involved, he observed. In the end, he said, the idea was not pursued.
Pugel’s message detailed concealed pistol license fees and a spike in the number of applications following the Sandy Hook shooting. According to Pugel’s note, “Last year we issued about 1,560 CPLs (about 30 a week), and did 6,240 checks on people simply purchasing a guns (sic). Since the Connecticut shooting we are doing about 50 to 60 CPLs a week.”
Following the National Rifle Association’s response to Sandy Hook, McGinn’s staff also traded e-mails about a statement from McGinn, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The exchange included McCoy, Hester, Ethan Raup, McGinn’s director of policy and operations; Aaron Pickus, McGinn’s assistant communications director, Robert Cruikshank, McGinn’s communications and public relations advisor, and the mayor.
Various ideas about a McGinn statement were exchanged, including one from Hester that suggested, “I am beyond disappointed by the NRA’s statement. A reckless notion born from the belly of an organization doing the dirty work for an unrepentant industry which profits from unspeakable tragedy. Enough. If the NRA will not lead, the American people will.”
Finally, Raup reported that McGinn stopped by his office and dictated the following comment, “The NRA has just shown that they are completely out of ideas. It’s time to stop listening to them and start working on real solutions.”
On Feb. 8, a citizen inquiry to Carl Marquardt, the mayor’s legal counsel, asked if he could explain the city’s authority to “shut down and stop personal sales of guns in the area of a gun buyback.” Marquardt forwarded that inquiry to Pickus, who responded, “Please ignore. He is a 2nd amendment activist with a website, I think.”
TGM contacted that citizen, who expressed disappointment that the city would simply chose to ignore a legitimate inquiry. He also said he does not operate a website, but acknowledged being a Second Amendment activist and member of the Open Carry community.
On Jan. 27, the day after the buyback, which saw several gun activists buying firearms from people who were waiting in line to turn in their guns for gift certificates, an e-mail exchange involving Raup, McCoy, Hester, Pickus, Cruikshank and McGinn saw them focusing on the number of guns that were taken in. They also decided that the curbside sales would work to their favor in the argument for expanded background checks.
McCoy mentioned a press conference scheduled the following day.
“Can we discuss what we are looking for out of tomorrow’s event. I have concerns if we are just doing a show and tell that it could lead to a negative spin a la Seattle Times. I think there is some merit to doing the report out and then turning on the larger message of the show loophole. The private sellers on the street were insane. I think we could use that, maybe even gather some of the b-roll and put a little video together and highlight the craziness of our laws for Olympia.”
A few moments later, McGinn responded, “Sounds good.”
Cruikshank responded a few minutes later, “We will have a good story to tell tomorrow – at least 700 guns collected in less than four hours, and we know there was demand to turn in many more. Public responded to our call for getting rid of unwanted guns – fact that most people did not want to sell them was sign that people understood that this could help protect public safety and health.
“Re: Private sellers,” he continued, “I’d say our messaging there should imply that their presence did not detract from the success of the event, and we should say openly that it is a good example of the unacceptably lax gun laws this state has where people can openly buy and sell guns on the street and we have no power to stop it. That’s what we mean by “close the gun show loophole” and we urge Olympia to do so.”
The exchange ignores the irony of the city collecting guns, no questions asked. Gun activists have long contended this is an open door for criminals to get rid of firearms they may have used in crimes, or stolen. Also ignored was the fact that holding a buyback event in an open air location literally invited gun activists to appear with cash in hand to buy some guns.
Later in the Jan. 27 exchange, McCoy added, “I don’t think we should acknowledge it (the curbside buying) detracted from the event, but I think we have to say it is a huge problem and our event highlighted it. The TV, the times (sic), everyone covered it.”
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared at TheGunMag.com, which is a monthly publication of the Second Amendment Foundation, a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational, literary research and publishing organization.