April 23, 2024 7:51 pm

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Commentary: Attacking the Second Amendment doesn’t address core causes of society’s violence and lawlessness

SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash., April 10, 2023—On the Saturday before Easter, the state Senate’s majority Democrats passed what they call an “assault weapons ban.” In reality, the bill targets several of the most popular sporting and self-defense firearms in the country, including most modern sporting rifles and even some shotguns used for hunting and competition shooting.

second amendment
Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-39, A defender of the Second Amendment

My Republican colleagues and I debated the measure for nearly three hours, using the amendment process to try to point out the fallacies of their arguments and mitigate some of the damage the bill would do to the rights of Washingtonians and small business owners who work as legal firearms dealers.

As it turned out, I was the only one able to get an amendment accepted – one to support our military members and allow them to keep their firearms when they are ordered to move to Washington.

The proponents of this bill and I agree on one thing and one thing only. We are in a crisis in Washington. But it is a crisis of general lawlessness across our communities, one exacerbated by bad legislative decisions over the past several legislative sessions. 

We have seen soft-on-crime policies, releasing criminals from incarceration; vilification of our law enforcement officers; toleration of life-destroying drug proliferation and use; failure to address mental health adequately; and poor decisions during the COVID lockdowns resulting in learning loss and depression among our youth. We need to focus on addressing the root causes leading to chaos and violence, not vilify firearm ownership.

Our nation has always had a history of gun ownership, and the Second Amendment to the U.S. constitution enshrines our naturally endowed right to defend ourselves and our families. But what we have not always seen – what is new to the moment – is the devastating loss of life we have witnessed due to crime, suicide, mass shootings and senseless violence.

House Bill 1240 declares the violent and inappropriate use of firearms ‘appeal[s] to troubled young men intent on becoming the next mass shooter.’ But where is the effort to help these troubled young males and heal whatever there is inside of them that is broken and leading to violence and rage?

Instead, this bill goes after the implement, and completely ignores the underlying root causes of the problems we see today.

The problems are not just reflected in deaths caused by a demented person with a firearm. We see it in the increase of drug-related deaths, teen suicides, wrong-way and drunk-driving assaults on our roads, and in the sunken eyes of lost souls we see roaming our streets with unattended-to mental-health and substance-abuse issues.

It is reflected in fatherless homes producing rudderless young men who feel hopeless and unsure of their place in this world. It is reflected in the general lawlessness we have seen explode across this state, thanks in large part to the failed policies of the Democrat majority in the Legislature and Governor Inslee.

Banning some of the most popular firearms kept and used by law-abiding citizens today will do nothing to address these problems. Absolutely zero.

Look no further than the City of Seattle. Despite Washington ranking in the Top 10 nationally for gun control for the past five years, we have seen the number of shootings – fatal or not – and ‘shots-fired events’ in our largest city hit an all-time high in 2022.

The fact of the matter is the law created by this bill will just be more of the same. Worse still, it will give the victims of these crimes and all Washingtonians a false sense of security that something is being done.

And let’s not forget that this ban is also blatantly unconstitutional, and likely to cost taxpayers crucial dollars that could be invested in mental health and public safety, but which will instead be used trying to unsuccessfully defend this law in the courts.

HB 1240 now goes back to the House to reconcile changes between the version that passed the Senate and the one that passed the House earlier this year. That means there is still time for lawmakers to do the right thing, put this bill down, and set their sights on real solutions.

Senator Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley
Washington State Legislature

Editor’s Note: Letters-to-the-Editor do not reflect the views of the Lynnwood Times, it’s publisher nor those of it’s employees and contributors, and are solely those of the author.

7 Responses

  1. The Senator is unfortunately short-sided in not realizing that although the factors he mentions are valid, so is the necessity to restrict; and that is where we start.

    1. Thank you Senator Wagoner for the intelligent Commentary. The problem isn’t the tool (the gun) or gun laws, it’s the mental state of the shooter. In
      almost every single case the person has been on psychotropic drugs, or missed taking their perscription drug. That is the real cause of these shootings. Taking guns away from law abiding citizens only enables criminals to harm the rest of us. We can not be left defenseless against criminals. Thank you.

    2. Guns are already restricted. There are age restrictions to buy them, and a background check must be passed. That’s all the restrictions that are needed. If you buy a gun, you must pick it up from someone with an FFL and again, pass a background check. We have to get past wanting to eliminate or “restrict” further, one item out of hundreds that you can use to kill someone with, and in thinking that doing so will stop people from killing each other. Murder with a firearm or anything else is already illegal and has been since before the United States became a country.

      1. Yep, you already need to jump a lot of hoops to get a firearm, even for hunting. Restricting is even further won’t make much difference( I think I had to wait like 6 months on one of my purchases, if not longer).

  2. How about doing both! Even hunters and gun owners agree we do not need AR15 guns used for war available to the public. Getting rid of these types of guns does not mean you don’t address mental health. You have had lots of time to take action on both and action is what is needed. Stop fighting what is needed & take that money to continue to address the mental health issues needed. It is NOT an either or issue!

  3. The courts should recognize the doctrine of “original intent” when interpreting the Second Amendment. The firearms the framers knew were smooth-bore muzzle-loading muskets. Those were the arms the framers authorized citizens to “keep and bear,” not rapid-fire rifles loaded with military rounds designed to tear and destroy human flesh. it’s time to return to the original intent of the framers.

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