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August 24, 2006, 06:42 PM
For the lazy and for the future:
We can limit gun violence by empowering responsible citizens to defend themselves
By James J. Na
Special to The Times
James J. Na
As Seattleites emerge from their state of shock over the July 28 shooting spree at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, there no doubt will be discussions on how to prevent a repeat of this kind of monstrous evil, whether perpetrated as a form of decentralized terrorism inspired by anti-Semitism, or as an act of a deranged individual.
Predictably, there will be cries to restrict the instruments of Naveed Afzal Haq's actions — firearms — as a means to control violence of this sort in the future. Coming on the heels of another shooting spree in March of this year on Capitol Hill, there will be much political temptation to be seen to be "doing something."
And legislating more restrictions on the right to keep and bear firearms is often viewed as an emotionally satisfying and politically convenient way to meet that psychological need to do something — anything — in the aftermath of a tragedy like this.
But that inclination is misguided on two points, one based on principle and the other on practicality. First, as a matter of principle, a free, open society like ours does not, and ought not, preemptively restrict freedom of the general population out of fear that a small criminal minority would misuse that freedom.
Just as the fact that a few pedophiles use the Internet to trade child porn should not move the society to restrict access to the Internet for the public at large, neither should the right of the vast majority of responsible, law-abiding citizens to own and carry guns be sacrificed in the false hope that criminals would then be constrained.
Second, as a matter of practicality, such a restriction on guns does nothing to curb violence. Even if legal firearm ownership were completely banned today, no serious person would argue that we could eradicate the availability of firearms on the black market. Those who intend to harm others will still be able to get guns — illegally.
Those who are unable to do so, but still harbor criminal intents, will use other means to inflict harm. In England, for example, a man went on a slashing spree with a sword at a church in 1999; and early this year, a recent University of North Carolina graduate, a native of Iran, plowed into a crowd with a sport utility vehicle "to avenge Muslim deaths."
Guns, knives and any other conceivable arms are obviously banned in our prison system, but despite the most strenuous control measures, people are still assaulted and murdered at prisons, often with improvised weapons. It is a fact of life that there will always be those few, for whatever reasons, who seek to inflict physical harm upon others even in the most benign of utopias.
Then what are we to do as a society?
What we ought to do is precisely the opposite — to encourage a responsible, armed citizenry. Of course, I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not encourage vigilantism. I am not suggesting that people arm themselves and go looking for trouble. You leave that to the professionals who get paid to take the risk.
Nor am I suggesting that an armed citizen could have entirely prevented the Jewish Federation attack. But an armed citizen defending his school, church, synagogue or home could mitigate the extent of the casualty level should such a calamity strike again (as happened in Pearl, Miss., in 1997, when an assistant principal interrupted a school shooting by retrieving his gun from his car — ironically it was illegal for him to bring a gun to school — and holding the suspect at bay until the police arrived).
Despite what some politicians and groups say, there is no magic solution for curbing murderous violence. We cannot ban mechanical objects and expect twisted human beings to cleanse evil from their souls suddenly. Furthermore, in a free, open society like ours, where we all live with some degree of mutual trust and a social contract to not do harm to each other, there is no reliable way of preemptively stopping someone intent on harming others.
The only thing we can do is to try to limit the damage by continuing to empower the majority of law-biding, decent individuals with the freedom to defend themselves.
James J. Na, senior foreign policy fellow at Discovery Institute (discovery.org), co-authors "The Korea Liberator" (korealiberator.org) and "Guns and Butter Blog" (gunsandbutter.blogspot.com).
I am glad to see that a few of the sane people on that side of the state have managed to get their voices heard.
+1 Very good article.
August 24, 2006, 08:49 PM
There's a lot of us over here. Washington has the 4th highest concentration of CCW licensees among the states. King County has the 36th highest concentration in state, but at 3.95 percent of age eligible adults there are more CCW licensees here than in 29 Shall Issue States.
August 24, 2006, 10:39 PM
Thank you for linking to my column.
I should point out, by the way, I no longer live in Seattle. I moved last summer from Seattle to Northern Virginia.
And why did I leave Seattle? See: http://gunsandbutter.blogspot.com/2005/07/whats-matter-with-seattle.html
If anyone cares, my other columns (mostly Seattle Times and RealClearPolitics) can be found here: http://gunsandbutter.blogspot.com/2006/08/links-to-my-op-eds.html
August 24, 2006, 11:29 PM
I didn't realize such articles existed in the local P-I and Times. I stopped subscribing to the papers after seeing my share of "for the children" type arguments and irrelevent front page news stories. Of course, Seattle isn't reflective of the rest of the state, but they make up a large vocal majority that overshadows the rest of the state.
I live close to Seattle, but I don't live IN Seattle. I read your link on why you moved and fundamentally agree to it.
I like to drive the 25 or so miles up there several times a month with friends or whatnot to enjoy myself, but if I spend too much time there, it becomes overbearing. The "if its not natural fibers, it's crap, I drive a hybrid so I'm better than you but ignore the hybrid's plastics and lubricants are still derived from petro products, fur is evil, feminism is the future, super PC liberal" mentality gets old fast. I don't mind opposing views, but the prostelyzing rivals that of religious rants and my spare time is precious. Doesn't matter even if you're educated and well off, you're looked down upon if you don't think the same. Blue collar and men bashing galore.
I wish they would stop screwing around with my radio station because that is one of the few free things I can bother enjoying here besides the scenery.
August 25, 2006, 04:04 PM
I am compelled to point out that there was an opinion piece with an opposing point of view printed next to Mr. Na's opinion article.
August 25, 2006, 06:09 PM
And to add what Kengrubb mentioned, Washington has had CCW since 1961, one of the first states to do so.
August 25, 2006, 10:46 PM
I saw that same opposition article too from a bigwig at the WashingtonCeasefire website...which is lame. Poor, sweeping generalizing "factoids" made my head hurt:
Two thirds of King County firearm deaths occur in the home. (Seattle and King County Public Health Death Watch, August 2000)
Yes, which I am sure includes any combination of civilians, cops, and criminals involved in a home invasion or raid.
33% of Washington homes contain a gun. (Washington State Department of Health, Behavioral Health Survey, 2002)
I didn't know it was that high, but that actually had the opposite effect and made me feel BETTER.
Firearms are second to motor vehicles as the leading cause of death from injury in the U.S.
Death FROM injury, not death period. Car wrecks and firearms can produce very severe injuries that are impossible to survive. Someone gets fatally wounded in the vitals, is technically injured, and airlifted to the hospital and dies on the way there. +1 more for death from injury.
Firearms are the leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds residing in Seattle.
And worded in such a way to include suicides which make up 55% of the tally (according to another stat they list below), criminal youth which also make up a large share, and finally accidents, actual murders, and negligent discharges which are rare. Its funny they didnt include children ages 1-14 into "firearm = leading cause of death", because most youth criminals that get into serious crime, and most depressed youths that commit suicide fall smackdab into that 15-24 age group.
More than 9 children and teenagers under the age of 19 are killed with guns every day.
Again, see reasons for firearm deaths above
Blah blah, complete list here but I got a headache from reading "facts" http://www.washingtonceasefire.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=6&id=15&Itemid=26
Oddly enough, after hyping up "facts" with children, they posted this:
Last year in the United States, approximately 214 children died from accidental shootings and more than 1,000 suffered from non-fatal firearm injuries.
Which counters their entire diatribe and shows that an exceedingly SMALL number of youths actually die by firearms in ACCIDENTS. 214 people in a country of 300 million with an estimated 200-250 million guns in the country...I would say that is fairly good from a statistical standpoint.
August 26, 2006, 02:40 PM
What I found interesting (and ultimately pointless) about the opposing opinion article was that the writer's major "solution" (and the only one he proposed) for solving the "gun problem" was to "close the gun show loophole." In spite of the fact that the WAC shows are about the only game in town, and you've gotta be a member to buy/sell there anyway ... (well, private-party sales are an option, but most who would conduct them at or around a WAC show are members or otherwise savvy about making sure they're not selling to criminals ...)
Washington has had CCW since 1961, one of the first states to do so.Actually, THE first "shall-issue" law.
August 26, 2006, 08:21 PM
Interesting articles and links.
I have a lot of family in the Seattle and PA area, and I'm not used to reading such articles when I browse the Seattle PI during visits. Interesting.
After having lived in CA for almost 50 years (not born here), I still find the climate and people in much of WA a refreshing change of pace from CA in its present condition of the last 30-odd years.
I'll probably retire to the Pacific NW. Haven't decided whether it'll be OR or WA. I'd prefer some decent motorcycling weather for at least half of the year, which I've experienced in the Banana Belt.
My partner at work would rather retire and live near the Bourbon Trail, but there's no way in hell I could convince my wife to move to the East Coast.
I'd settle for AZ or NM, but I can only get potential approval for considering getting a winter home in one of those states ...
As long as it's out of CA ...
August 28, 2006, 07:44 AM
I didn't realize such articles existed in the local P-I and Times.I am a [the?] token conservative guest columnist at The Seattle Times. My pieces usually run about once a month (for the past two years). I believe, however, the particular editor I deal with is a closet conservative. At a minimum, he gives my views a fair airing.
I also contribute op-eds to RealClearPolitics frequently, BTW.
You can see links to my op-eds here: http://www.korealiberator.org/2006/02/12/jamesjna/
And worded in such a way to include suicidesSeattle winters are very mild. But, boy, it's cloudy. I did okay the first couple of winters, but after that, I did get very depressed during subsequent winters. I wouldn't be surprised at high suicide rate in Seattle (although the summers are great, cool, sunny and dry).
Ultimately, however, Seattle's political monopoly and its ill effects drove me away... despite very freedom-oriented CCW laws.
August 28, 2006, 02:41 PM
Ultimately, however, Seattle's political monopoly and its ill effects drove me away... despite very freedom-oriented CCW laws.But it's only King County ... ah, well, James ... one can always live (as I do) just a short ferry ride across the Sound from Seattle or a (relatively) short drive around the South Sound, up here in more conservative (and rural) Mason County or Kitsap County ... close enough to take advantage of all the many good things Seattle has to offer, but able to go home to neighborhoods of more like-minded folks ... And fastbolt, we may not have six months of great cycling weather, but we've got sunny summers and the best scenery you'll see anywhere in the country.
August 28, 2006, 03:03 PM
I love Lewis County! It's the most rural and most conservative of the wet-side counties, equidistant to shopping in Portland and Seattle, and far enough from Seattle that we aren't infested with big-city stupidity. Although Olympia is just a short drive up the freeway, they're still far enough away not to have infested the local mentality too much.
Washington is a great state in another way: our liberals are mostly libertarian, rather than the authoritarian brand of liberalism so prevalent elsewhere. The political scene down this direction is fascinating and usually has a high amusment factor, though the Big Two are doing their best to shove everyone else out of the game.
James, that was an excellent article. I'm glad you've kept writing for the Times even after moving away.
KenGrubb ~ where'd you get those statistics, please?
August 28, 2006, 03:04 PM
I just read the article. I thought it was a very well written article and honestly did not expect to see that in the Seattle paper. I only hope that more people will eventually start to realize these things and start to think the same way. I am originaly from west Texas and very used to being around firearms. But I recently moved to Puyallup and can say most of the people I have met there including a few LEO's are for ccw, I could be wrong but this is just from the few that I have met in the past few months.
August 28, 2006, 03:19 PM
This is a bit off topic but if a guy wanted to relocate from the midwest to coastal oregon/washington, what are some communities that you might recommend where one could find an employer (tech) large enough to be willing to pay for relocation? I always figured seattle would be the obvious place to start then eventually find my way to a smaller more libertarian than liberal minded area, but maybe I can avoid the middleman with some suggestions from the locals. :D
August 28, 2006, 05:44 PM
But it's only King CountyTrue. But the political dominance of King County (and a few other bedroom counties that are turning "blue") is such that other counties, particularly in the dry and snowy side of the state are becoming politically meaningless in state-wide elections.
I heard a Dem operator boast to me that they can lose just about every county in the state, but King (and maybe one or two others) and win every state-wide office. He is not too off the mark.
What spooked me, of course, was that he and his fellow leftists were planning to impose 1) a state income tax (none at present) and 2) stricter gun-control laws and a few other scary items the first politically convenient chance they get.
August 28, 2006, 07:01 PM
Nicely done, I linked to your editorial here. (http://progunprogressive.com/?p=212) Nice to see a THR member in print in the bigtime.
Are CCW rights really in jeapordy in WA? One of the things I like pointing out to the antis is that pretty much everywhere Shall Issue has been adopted, there's no credible movement to remove it. What exactly are the antis in WA planning?
August 28, 2006, 07:08 PM
Both the Times and the P-I have their moments on the gun issue. Last spring after the Capitol Hill shooting the Times ran a series of competing anti- and pro-gun op-eds. And the P-I editorial board has one pro-gunner (generally) aboard.
As chairman of the No-on-676 (handgun owner licensing initiative) campaign several years ago, I can assure you the Times editorial board at that time was rabidly anti. They were probably the most negative of more than a dozen editorial board interviews we did that campaign. 11 of the top 15 circulation papers in the state came out against the initiative, four were in favor: the Times, the Olympian, the Eastside Journal and the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Even the P-I came out against it.
71% NO vote. How sweet!
August 28, 2006, 07:21 PM
We defeated a very nasty assault-weapons bill not long ago. The antis played a very fast shuffle in the back rooms trying to sneak it through without gun folks catching wind of it, but we got a bunch of people to Olympia on short notice and really swamped the meeting. These people are a lot like cockroaches and try to do what they want to do under cover of darkness. Once the lights come on, they all scurry for cover.
Another bill that keeps returning is the gun-show loophole thing. This is just utterly stupid, because pretty well the only gun shows in the state are run by a private club which requires background checks and all the other proposed legislative nannyisms already.
And of course we've had more than a few battles about state pre-emption. We've got an excellent pre-emption law which means that all battles over gun control in WA have to take place at the state level -- counties and cities cannot pass laws more restrictive than the state law. The King County antis hate that with a passion that has to be seen to be believed. But so far reason has prevailed, and there's no immediate reason to believe it won't keep prevailing.
On the plus side, we finally got a weak-and-wimpy version of reciprocity going here, and although they've really dragged their feet about it and done a lot of whining and moaning, it looks to be solid enough to stay and perhaps even expand down the road.
August 29, 2006, 12:13 AM
At first, Mayor Nickels' agenda: gun shows, assault weapons, mandatory trigger locks and "crime gun" tracing. After that, the world. They tried to tighten up CCW in '94, but overreached.
Look for further restrictions on where you can carry. Parks, other public places. Training for CPLs (they tried in '94, but it failed). Expanded mental health disqualifiers.
We stopped them in 2005 because nearly 400 Washington gun owners stuffed the hearing room -- and three overflow rooms. We stopped them in 2006 because about 80-90 gun owners stuffed the hearing room. Notice the shrinking number. We went through the same thing with pro-gun rallies in the mid-90s. In '94, we mustered 1,200 on the Capitol steps. In '95, about 700. In '96. we barely mustered 100. That's when we stopped rallies -- too embarrassing.
The anti's are after state Senator Luke Esser big time, because of his "no" vote on the gun show bill this year. And Senator Steve Johnson (running for the Supreme Court), Another "no" vote.
Hey, Washingtonians, what are you doing to keep Esser in office and put Hohnson in the Supreme Court?
See you in Oly next year. Hopefully.
August 29, 2006, 02:17 AM
it looks to be solid enough to stay and perhaps even expand down the road.Didn't Democrat Gary Locke actually sign on to reciprocity while he was lameduck?Look for further restrictions on where you can carry. Parks, other public places.Heck, WA already has a restriction on "outdoor music festivals" with, what was it, over 2,000 expected attendants or some such thing?
That was just bizarre. I never got over it. :p
On the other hand, I really appreciate the fact that WA allows CCW holders to carry at restaurants even if they serve alcohol (but not at bars and 21-only areas).
In VA, if an establishment has ABC license, I cannot conceal-carry. Of course, I can OPEN CARRY in such an establishment. I've done so, and no one looked at me funny (except at a Korean restaurant where no one batted an eye, except the lone blond, blue-eyed white customer who looked very freaked).
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