While backers of billionaire-funded Initiative 594 are planning one more rally this Saturday – using the Marysville-Pilchuck school shooting as something of a campaign prop – another county sheriff has joined 26 of his colleagues to oppose the measure, making the count more than two-thirds of the elected sheriffs against the measure.
Reports from several readers to Examiner late yesterday indicated that many, if not all, of these lawmen have apparently been targeted by “robo-calls” from I-594 supporters, claiming the sheriffs are out of touch with their constituents, and have been co-opted by the “gun lobby.” Perhaps they’ve read the initiative, and discussed it, as have executive board members of both the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, and the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association, both of which oppose I-594 and support rival Initiative 591.
In an e-mail sent yesterday by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety over the name of Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, she said, “My heart sank at the news of Friday’s shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School — the third school shooting in Washington State this year, and the 87th in the country since Sandy Hook. For all of us, it was a tragic reminder of the massive, urgent need to do more to make our communities safer.
“We can’t prevent every shooting,” Watts’ message continued, “but we can do more to make sure fewer lives will be turned upside down by gun violence.”
And then came the exploitive appeal: “Voters in Washington State have an opportunity to make history this year by voting YES on Initiative 594 — a measure that would require criminal background checks on all gun sales in Washington State.”
Watts promises to be at the Saturday afternoon rally, slated at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Seattle. Likely other names attached to the campaign will be there as well. Someone might ask her about the school shootings claim, because such assertions have been thoroughly debunked.
The other day, a story in the Seattle Times mentioned some of the high-profile supporters of I-594 who attended a Monday evening phone bank gathering. The lineup included Rory Graves, whose mother had been shot by her mom’s husband. She appears in a couple of the television advertisements.
In a revealing article Graves wrote for ParentMap, she wrote that the husband had long been abusive and commanding. He owned several firearms and was once a reserve police officer. The story said, “They were struggling over the gun when it went off. According to my mom, he attacked her, punched her, choked her and pinned her to the ground, then reached for the gun.”
At this point, it might be fair to ask how I-594 might have prevented this from happening. The 18-page gun control measure is ostensibly about so-called “universal background checks,” but this guy already owned guns.
The Times noted that Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, who lost a daughter in the 2012 Aurora theater attack, were also present. The alleged gunman in that case, James Holmes, purchased his guns legally at retail, which means that he went through multiple background checks.
I-594 backer Cheryl Stumbo, a survivor of the infamous Seattle Jewish Federation shooting, was also mentioned in the article. One of her co-workers died in that attack and Stumbo was severely wounded. Yet, killer Naveed Haq had legally-purchased his handgun at retail in the Tri-Cities area, and had passed a background check.
All of these incidents were tragic on many levels, yet I-594 would not provide a solution to their problem. Watts’ message tends to admit that.
And that brings us around to the exploitation of the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting last Friday. KIRO’s Dori Monson, writing at MyNorthwest.com on Monday noted that, “It took just hours for despicable people to start politicizing the tragedy.”
Monson zeroed in on I-594 financial supporter Nick Hanauer, and his controversial on-line remark Friday afternoon, even before the bodies had been removed from the high school, that outraged even other initiative backers. Monson said Hanauer “apparently thought it would be funny to sarcastically post about the murder and maiming of several children. Hours after the shooting, Hanauer tweeted “We need more school shootings!!! Vote yes on Initiative 591.” Examiner mentioned this Monday.
Monson was particularly critical of Hanauer. And then the veteran radio host noted, “Of course, what these frauds fail to tell anyone is that the two initiatives in our state – one promoted by the gun-rights crowd, the other promoted by anti-gun people – would have had zero effect on the Marysville shootings.”
Supporters of I-591 have made no attempt to exploit any tragedies throughout the 18-month campaign. They have repeatedly noted how I-594 would not have prevented the crimes being touted by its supporters in an effort to stir voter emotions and gin up support for their gun control scheme.
The I-591 campaign has been running at a severe disadvantage, outspent nine or ten-to-one, overwhelmed by the I-594 $10.1 million war chest. But they have active-duty law enforcement overwhelmingly on their side, a fact that the gun control crowd has danced around, and most of the mainstream press has almost religiously avoided reporting.
With less than a week remaining before votes are counted Nov. 4, there is still time for undecided voters to read the initiatives, and make some decisions. Those decisions should be based on fact rather than emotion.