(AP Photo/Dave Martin)
There’s something really wrong with any law that ultimately penalizes you for being the victim of a crime. To be sure, victim-blaming is supposed to be a bad thing, something we’re not supposed to engage in anymore, and that’s for the best. Nothing could be worse than being victimized by a criminal, only to be then victimized by the criminal justice system.
But, it’s not like the leadership in Seattle give a damn about that.
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved two gun control regulations Monday, originally proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, that require safe storage of firearms. Seattle residents now face penalties if they do not safely store their firearms or report lost and stolen guns.
“For me it’s very simple,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “We are just trying to save one life at a time. Whether this law or any law drastically changes the needle, that concerns me less. We are trying to save one life at a time.”
Of course, neither of these laws will save anyone’s life. While mandatory storage laws might make it more difficult for non-approved people to get their hands on a firearm, that’s countered by the difficulty people will have in accessing the gun when needed.
Mandatory reporting laws do nothing to prevent violence, nothing at all. At best, they’ll simply let police know another gun is on the street. That’s it.
To make matters worse, it appears that the law will basically make gun owners guilty until proven innocent.
Seattle’s safe storage regulation, and the rules on reporting lost and stolen guns, state:
- Safe storage: Guns should be stored in a locked container, and rendered as unusable to any person other than the owner or authorized user.
- Unauthorized access prevention: It will be a civil infraction if a minor, at-risk, or prohibited person obtains a firearm when the owner should have reasonably known they would have access to it.
- Violation of the safe-storage law, or the unauthorized access regulation could result in a fine between $500 and $1,000.
- If a prohibited or at-risk person, or a minor obtains a firearm and uses it to commit a crime, injure or kill someone (including themselves), the gun owner could be fined up to $10,000.
- If a civil case results from prohibited access, it will be “prima facie evidence” that they are negligent. That means it is immediately a fact, unless proven otherwise.
- The new gun law will go into effect 180 days after it passes and Mayor Durkan signs it.
Now, that little tidbit of prohibited access to a gun will be taken as prima facie evidence of negligence may ultimately end up being a poison pill for the whole thing. While it’s a civil case, it’s still requiring people to prove their own innocence rather than the other way around. As a general rule, that’s not how the American court system is supposed to work.
Then again, it’s not like Seattle gives a flying flip about anyone’s constitutional rights or anything else.
Meanwhile, I can’t help but think about my friend who was murdered in Seattle. Had the government there actually prosecuted her murderer for the alleged domestic violence he had engaged in previously and convicted him the guy would not have had the guns he used to kill my friend. They completely ignore their responsibility in her murder, but will penalize ordinary Seattle residents for being victimized?