Nice House You Have Here…
“They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away. But then you see this, and you have to wonder.”
That’s no gun-rights absolutist talking, but Lance Palmer, a Seattle trial lawyer and self-described liberal who brought the troubling Senate Bill 5737 to my attention. It’s the long-awaited assault-weapons ban, introduced last week by three Seattle Democrats.
But then, with respect to the thousands of weapons like that already owned by Washington residents, the bill says this:
“In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”
In other words, come into homes without a warrant to poke around. Failure to comply could get you up to a year in jail.
What’s the easiest way to turn any law-abiding citizen into a criminal? Treat them like one from the start. This is an eight-page bill, so it’s not like the plebs who work for the various legislators didn’t have time to read this. It’s that nobody thought that this was a bad plan until normal people actually read it. The defense stated in the article was that this bill likely wasn’t going to pass anyway, so it was put in for “guidance” in future efforts. Um…
A mistake is a typo or forgetting to insert or remove a key word in legislation; that happens from time to time, with embarrassing but not usually substantial consequences. This was obviously a deliberate part of the bill, intended to intimidate gun owners into giving up the exercise of their rights, again with the meaningless rubric of “assault weapons.”
Look, I understand that this is an emotional issue, and that there’s no easy answer. This is another one of those subjects that you only bring up if you plan to get into an argument, and usually one where you don’t plan to have friends. At least, that’s the way it is here in the Northwest. So when I see an “honest mistake” appear in legislation, this is really just someone with an opinion AND a platform who can pick on those who disagree.
I’m guessing that there will be a point where one of these accidental language efforts slips into law and then has to work through the court system. While that happens, plenty of people will be disenfranchised of a basic right, and that bothers me. But heck it’s not like it’s really going to put people in danger, right?