GOAL Alert 3-2014
Election update 22 October 2014
TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE GUEST COLUMNIST OPPOSES I-594
MAJORITY OF WASHINGTON SHERIFFS NOW OPPOSE 594
MAJORITY OF RANK AND FILE WASHINGTON COPS OPPOSE 594
WHY ARE YOU RECEIVING THIS ALERT?
The following article was published in the Tacoma News Tribune on Sunday, 19 October. The author, Phil Shave, is the retired Chief of Law Enforcement for Washington State Parks and a long-time instructor with the Criminal Justice Training Commission. He is currently the Executive Director of the Washington Arms Collectors (WAC).
NO ON 594: DON’T TURN NEIGHBORS INTO ACCIDENTAL CRIMINALS
Would you vote for a law that would make criminals of half your neighbors? Initiative 594 would do exactly that.
In their zeal to impose “universal background checks,” the creators of I-594 have written a law that would require nearly all “transfers” of firearms to be conducted at the premises of a Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer.
I-594 defines transfers as a change of possession, no matter how temporary, including gifts and loans. There are exceptions for family gifts, organized competitions and youth activities, but they are so narrow that most recreational, non-sale transfers would be crimes.
The father who loans a hunting rifle to an adult son during hunting season would commit a misdemeanor (upon the first violation). When the rifle is returned, both father and son would be two-time offenders, and thus felons under I-594.
Shooting buddies who met on public land or their own property to target practice with shared firearms would violate I-594. Routine gun repairs would also be criminalized. The initiative would effectively forbid you from dropping your firearm off with a gunsmith friend unless he had a federal license. Most gunsmiths in this state, often the most skilled, lack federal licenses.
Women are targeted by several provisions. Instructors could no longer provide loaner firearms during introductory women’s self-defense classes. And if your sister were being stalked and in fear of her life, and you loaned her a firearm, you would both be criminals. I-594 has an exception to “prevent imminent death,” but the legal definition of imminent means “about to happen.”
Widows and heirs beware: If your spouse died and you found a couple of handguns in your husband’s sock drawer 61 days after death, then you’d be an accidental felon.
I-594 only allows you 60 days to register those guns; after that, they’d become contraband. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and intent to commit a crime is not an element written into 594. Why write a law that makes inheritance of grandpa’s old guns a crime?
Colorado passed a law in 2013 requiring universal background checks, but the Colorado law includes exceptions for temporary transfers without change of ownership, transfers while hunting or target shooting, transfers for gun repairs and loans for 72 hours. The transfer fee is capped at a reasonable $10 (fees are unlimited in I-594).
If only I-594 were that reasonable. Failure to complete the Colorado paperwork is a misdemeanor, whereas I-594 makes the first offense a gross misdemeanor and the second a Class C felony.
I urge you to follow the lead of our state’s law enforcement officers, those who deal with crime and criminals on a daily basis; they oppose I-594 and support passage of Initiative 591. Vote yes on I-591 because it leaves intact our current background check laws while allowing our state to implement future enhancements adopted at the federal level for all 50 states.
I-594’s penalty provisions are one huge reason that law enforcement officers oppose this flawed initiative. Its promoters cleverly revised the law to define an I-594 felony as a “serious” offense, placing it in the same category as child molestation, third-degree rape, leading organized crime and drive-by shootings.
You could loan your gun to a friend for the weekend, and the judge hearing your paperwork crime would have to follow “serious” crime-sentencing guidelines, including consecutive sentences for these newly defined “serious” crimes.
No law enforcement organization supports Initiative 594.
The Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs represents the majority of law enforcement line-level officers in our state; it opposes the initiative. The Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association opposes it. These are the firearm professionals who would be tasked with enforcing this unreasonable law.
Nineteen elected sheriffs oppose I-594. They understand that the initiative will consume scarce resources in the prosecution and imprisonment of its accidental violators.
(When Phil’s column was submitted to the T-N-T, nineteen sheriffs had joined us in opposing I-594. In the past few days, six more sheriffs have climbed aboard, bringing the total to 25 of the state’s 39 county sheriffs.)
As noted above, 25 county sheriffs have added their names to the list of those opposing I-594. In addition to their law enforcement expertise in addressing this issue, there is one more important thing you should understand: all of these sheriffs are ELECTED OFFICIALS, and answerable to their constituents.
At this time, the 25 sheriffs who are opposing I-594 are (in county alphabetical order):
Sheriff John Hunt — Adams County
Sheriff Steven Keane – Benton County
Sheriff Brian Burnett — Chelan County
Sheriff Bill Benedict – Clallam County
Sheriff Rocky MIller — Columbia County
Sheriff Mark Nelson — Cowlitz County
Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal – Douglas County
Sheriff Pete Warner — Ferry County
Sheriff Richard Lathim – Franklin County
Sheriff Ben Keller — Garfield County
Sheriff Thomas Jones – Grant County
Sheriff Rick Scott – Grays Harbor County
Sheriff Rick McComas — Klickitat County
Sheriff Steve Mansfield — Lewis County
Sheriff Wade Magers – Lincoln County
Sheriff Frank Rogers — Okanogan County
Sheriff Scott Johnson — Pacific County
Sheriff Alan Botzheim — Pend Orielle County
Sheriff Dave Brown, Skamania County
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich — Spokane County
Sheriff Kendle Allen – Stevens County
Sheriff John Snaza – Thurston County
Sheriff Mark Howie – Wahkiakum County
Sheriff John Turner – Walla Walla County
Sheriff Brett Myers — Whitman County
If YOUR sheriff isn’t on this list, you might ask him why?
Note that sheriffs AND rank and file police officers — the officers that actually patrol the streets, oppose 594 and support 591. The Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS), the largest police union in Washington representing a majority of sworn officers, has formally adopted a position opposing I-594 and supporting I-591. The same is true of the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearm Instructors Association (WSLEFIA). Who would know better the negative impact of I-594 than these dedicated officers.
What about police chiefs? As noted above, sheriffs are elected by residents of their county. They pay attention to their constituents. Rank and file officers that daily patrol our streets have minds of their own, and opinions of their own Neither support 594.
So how about chiefs? One thing to keep in mind: police chiefs work for City Hall, and hold their positions at the pleasure of the mayor or city council. Their opinions tend to match those of their bosses. Having said that, police chiefs statewide are represented by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs — WASPC. WASPC does not have a dog in this fight, they’re neutral.
Why are you receiving this e-mail? Theoretically no one on this list should need this e-mail. I would hope all of you are going to vote the right way on both initiatives: YES on 591, NO on 594. So why am I preaching to the choir, as it were?
Because we need YOUR HELP in getting the word out — to fellow gun owners who are not as politically-attuned as are you, and more importantly to the non-gun owning voters out there who are NOT getting the full story, especially on I-594. Our budget is extremely limited. The other side has nearly $9 MILLION to throw into television, radio and print media advertising.
As Joseph Goebbels observed more than 70 years ago, if you repeat a big lie often enough, people WILL believe it. And that is what billionaires Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Paul Allen and Chip Hanauer are counting on (all with private security details). They don’t need to fool all of the people all of the time, they only need to fool 51% of the people through election day.
I’m sending this information out in the hope that YOU will pick up pen, or sit at keyboard, and help get the word out to others. A simple and cheap way to do this is letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Newspapers DO print letters whose position they do not agree with. Over the years I have been reasonably successful in getting several letters published in the Seattle Times and P-I, no friends of gun owners.
Letters should be brief — ideally 150 words or less, and limited to one or two points. Taking your cue from this alert, you might bring out the fact that law enforcement statewide is opposed to I-594 and supports I-591. That message is NOT being conveyed by the mainstream media. This is your opportunity to do that, using their print space!
E-mail and snail mail addresses for your paper’s Letters to the Editor may be found on the letters page, usually in a box at the side or on the bottom. Policy on word limits are usually there, too, but 150 is a good number. Enough to get your point across.
I haven’t said much about I-591 here. I’m saving that for another alert. But it’s there on the ballot, too, and it needs and deserves your YES vote. That’s another way of fighting 594.