SB 5197 Hearing
...better late than never!
Before I begin, here is a link to a video of the hearing and here you can download an MP3 of the hearing, courtesy of the state of Washington. During the hearing, I was seated on the third row, far right (my right) side. Below is a summary of what transpired. Forgive me if I missed something, I can only write so fast.
I was fortunate to get a ride to the hearing with Dr. Michael S. Brown of Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws and one other. We left Vancouver at 11am and arrived at the capitol around 12:30pm. My first stop was the cafeteria to answer natures call and while there I also picked up one of those attractive "no on 5197" buttons from GOAL. After a brief stop at the sundial to get my bearings, I ventured off to find my Senator and Legislators. Seeing as how none of them were in their offices, I gave up and went back to the sundial. I should point out that I have emailed all of them and urged them to vote against SB 5197 and HB 1026 respectively. About 1:15pm or so, a man I later learned was Ray Carter (founder of Cease Fear aka Pink Pistols) advised that if we found a seat earlier on during a prior hearing, we could have a good seat for the hearing we were there for. So I joined him in hearing room 4 in the second row where I learned a lot about prisons, recidivism and juvenile offender programs, all courtesy of the Ways and Means Committee. Luckily for me, my Senator, Joseph Zarelli was in attendance, but after the hearing was over, he seemed to vanish into thin air.
2:24pm - Two anti's sit down to my left. Dr. Michael S. Brown and Ray Carter are sitting to my right.
2:55pm - I went and signed the meeting list in the corridor. The corridor is full and choked with people, most of them wearing the large white button with 5197 crossed out with a red, diagonally lined circle. The hearing room is packed too, and I hear talk of opening another hearing room to handle the large number of people. I understand that 301+ people against 5197 can be verified (probably much higher but they ran out of forms for the con side to sign) and only 74 Ceasefire members were in attendance.
I retake my seat in the hearing room just in time to be evicted so that the first two rows can be cleared to hold panelists who will give testimony before the committee. Dr. Brown gives me his seat on the third row and that is where I spend the remainder of the hearing.
3:32pm - The hearing is called to order. Three bills are heard before 5197, namely 5735, 5230 and 5582. Jennifer Strus, Committee staff member, reads the law to the committee. Senator Janea Holmquist (R) of the 13th LD asks if she and her future husband and future child decide to have a garage sale with ten guns if that would be illeagle or if nine would be okay. No, apparently. There also need to be three people present selling guns.
Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D) from the 36th LD admonishs all present to be polite to each other during the hearing. She also tries to justify the bill being heard before the Labor, Commerce, Research and Development Committee instead of the Judiciary Committee because it has to do with "commerce". *sigh* She splits up the testimony into two panels, for and against the bill. She also promises "equal time" no matter how many people showed up on either side.
Senator Clements (R) of the 14th LD says that he will have an open mind and will listen to both sides.
Next, two of the bills sponsers, Senator Rodney Tom (D) of the 48th LD, and Senator Adam Kline (D) of the 37th LD, come forward and claim that the bill isn't a "rights" issue, but a "crime" issue.
The three Senators on the left (Hewitt, Holmquist and Clemments) from their questions seem very pro-gun. Senator Clements (R) of the 14th LD suggests that the effort would be better spent on going after drunk drivers.
Madam Chairwoman states that what is important to her is to place all people who sell guns on the same level. She also claims that 25% - 50% of sellers at gun shows are "unlicensed dealers". I seriously doubt she has ever been to a gun show in her life.
4:09pm - The first "anti-rights" panel consists of Senator Ginny Burdick of Oregon, Bob Ricker of the fake gun group "American Hunters and Shooters", Garen Wintemute and Warren Appleton.
Senator Ginny Burdick (D) 18th LD in Oregon, led a campaign for a similar bill in Oregon. She says that it's not about guns or rights or taking away guns, it's about "crime". After she couldn't get her bill to pass in the legislature, she got it on the ballot where it passed, thanks to a large liberal contingent in the Metro-Portland, OR area.
Bob Ricker, who once worked for the NRA before he turned traitor, says that not all gun owners think like the NRA. He claims that since there are aproximately 80 million gun owners and only 4.5 million belong to the NRA, that this is proof of this. He repeats what madam chairwoman said about 25% - 50% of dealers at gun shows being unlicensed. Claims that a 2000 study shows that gun shows are a major conduit for illeagle gun "trafficing".
Garren Wintemute basically repeats the same things that Bob Ricker said.
Warren Appleton, head of the ER department at Evergreen Hospital says that he treats gun shot wounds everyday. He then plays the sympathy card and talks about the impact of "gun violence" on both the victim and the shooter. What this has to do with closing the "gunshow loophole" I'm not clear on.
Questions: Senator Karen Keiser of the 33rd LD asks if a .50 rifle can shoot down a civilian airliner. The anti's seem to agree that it is possible. One of them comments that he has a concern about "AR15's" being cut down to "pistol" size.
Madam chairwoman asks if there is concern that Oregon criminals might come to Washington gun shows now to buy guns to take back to Oregon and commit crimes with them. Ginny Burdick says that there is no data, but that they "undoubtedly" do.
4:25pm - Pro gun rights panel is up.
NRA rep Brian Judy comes out swinging and states outright that there is no "gunshow loophole" and that the bill is but the first step leading to confiscation. He says that this bill is actually about restricting private transfers. He points out that in California similar laws have lead to registration and then confiscation. The chairwoman interupts him several times during his testimony.
Ed Owens of the Hunters Heritage Council says that this bill expands the states authority. I also states that his organizations funds come from sales and auctions of firearms and that this bill would basically put them out of buisness.
Dr. Michael S. Brown points out that the Doctors are ill equiped to interpret and make gun laws. He also takes the time to refute three anti-gun studies.
Dave Workman, Senior Editor of Gun Week, assures the comittee that no .50 rifle can bring down a civillian airliner.
Senator Karen Keiser asks Brian Judy why the bill will lead to registration. He responds that everytime a gun is sold, the info is sent to the state, which is tantamount to registration.
The question is asked if a 5 day waiting period will stop gun shows. Brian Judy says that there are still gun shows in California, but that the sale of actual firearms ammount to a very small percentage. He also points out the absurdity of a 5 day waiting period at a 2 day gun show.
Madam chairwoman points out that since there are retail stores that sell guns, people will still be able to buy guns.
The question is asked why the Hunters Heritage Council would be put out of buisness.
Ed Owens responds that they aren't currently regulated as a gun show, but that this bill would change that.
Senator Clemments agress and states that he has never seen a criminal at a gunshow or event and says that they would stick out like a sore thumb.
4:46pm - Second anti panel.
Seattle Police Chief, Gil Kerlikowske (I wonder if he ever found his gun?) states that background checks work and it makes sense to level the playing field. He also says that gun shows are supplying guns into Mexico. He claims that law enforcement will not have to be sent to monitor gunshows.
Officer Mike Burris from the Auburn Police Department says that most dealers are licensed and that the impact to all parties involved is minimal. A member of the committee asks if crime guns can be traced to gun shows. Police Chief Kerlikowske says that there are no statistics available to prove that is the case, but that is why we need this legislation. (huh?)
Senator Clemments can't see how law abiding citizens should be further encumbered when there isn't a problem.
Senator Holmquist asks if felons will go to gun shows to get guns instead of getting them from family and friends or stealing them? The police chief says that felons will go to gun shows.
Senator Pam Roach (R) asks Officer Burris if her personally thinks there is a problem. He says that personally, he doesn't think there is, but that this will level the playing field.
Senator Pam Roach gets into an argument with madam chairwoman afterwhich there is much applause from the audience.
Officer Mike Burris closes the panel by stating that he is pro 2nd amemndment, but is not opposed to this bill.
5:06pm - Pro rights panel.
Joe Waldron, President of the Washington Arms Collectors repeats that at his shows there is a criminal background check because the only people allowed to buy guns are members of WAC and they all have a background check done on them. He goes on to say that this bill would make his organization criminally responsible for something he has no control over and that he and his staff will resign if this bill passes. He also states that C&R dealers would have double the paperwork that they do now. He then quotes stats from Project Safe Neighborhoods that show criminals aren't getting their guns from gun shows.
Ray Carter, Founding President of Cease Fear (aka The Pink Pistols) says that as a gay man, his group is subject to a lot of harrassment. He says that this bill amounts to "harrasment" directed at gun owners. He repeats the .7% gun show gun statistic and says that this bill would criminalize gun ranges and members if the wrong number of people at the range decided they wanted to sell or trade guns on the premises. On top of that, he says that this bill will result in significant costs to the state.
Joe Horn, retired LS County Sheriffs Deputy says that Gun shows are not a "comfortable" environment for criminals and that the bill puts undo restrictions on law abiding citizens. He says that the state should enforce existing laws and that criminals will use "any" weapon available to them.
Mike McKinney, retired LA Police Officer and Vietnam Vet, says that NICS checks are not always instant in all cases. He states that Ceasefire wants to ban all guns, just like the tied off barrels of the guns on their "buttons". As madam chairwoman repeatedly tells him that his time is up, he finishes with "Legislation - Registration and Confiscation". These being the three things that historically take place.
Senator Clemments says that he wishes Senator Tom would have come to him before writing the bill, and that he doesn't think the issue has been resolved. He further states that the bill is not crafted will and he can't support it.
Madam Chariwoman appreciates that "WAC" requires background checks, but is concerned that it is only a one time check.
Joe Waldron says that members have to have their ID when at shows. He says that they don't have access to the NICS system to do checks more often on their members.
Madam chairwoman asks how many shows in Washinton that WAC puts on each year. Joe responds that WAC puts on 50% of the shows in state. He then asks if they want to put California style gun laws into Washington when California's crime rate is 2.5 times ours. This draws some murmers of complaint from the Ceasfire crowd. I reminded one of them who was old enough to know better, that the figures are per capita, which eliminates the differences in population between the states.
After this, the hearing pretty much draws to a close and everyone begins to file out.
I arrived home in Camas that evening about 8:30pm.