Guns: Control, Safety, and Rights

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Balancing public safety with constitutional rights in the debate over gun control.

  • About the Program
  • The Socratic Method
  • Hypothetical Questions
  • Transcript

About the Episode

A streak of recent gun violence, including a shooting rampage in Seattle that left six people dead, has reignited the debate over gun control in Washington. Should cities be allowed to implement their own restrictions on handguns? Is the so-called "gun show loophole" helping guns into the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable? Does an armed citizenry make us more or less safe? C.R. Douglas explores the balance between public safety and constitutional rights.

Disclaimer: This debate was recorded before the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

About the Panelists

Ralph Fascitelli
Ralph Fascitelli

After a long career in corporate marketing, Ralph Fascitelli joined Washington CeaseFire, a citizen activist group dedicated to reducing gun violence in Washington, in 1999. In 2005, he became Board President. He recently retired from the board but is still an active member.

Alan Gottlieb
Alan Gottlieb

Alan Gottlieb is the Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the founder and Executive Director of the Second Amendment Foundation. He is a nationally-recognized leader of the gun rights movement.

Jenny Durkan
Jenny Durkan

Jenny Durkan, is the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washignton. She was a founding Board Member for the Seattle Police Foundation, which seeks to improve relations between the police department and the community. Durkan recently announced that her office will push to prosecute more gun-crime cases in Seattle, in response to recent gun violence.

John Carlson
John Carlson

John Carlson is a host and commentator on KOMO Newsradio. He has led three successful statewide initiatives, including one for America's first "Three Strikes, You're Out" law, and another for enhanced penalties for gun criminals.

Dave Ross
Dave Ross

Dave Ross is a host on KIRO FM radio. He leads the Eastlake Avenue Crusaders for Common Sense, and maintains a blog on MyNorthwest.com, where he recently posted his opinion about the “gun show loophole” that allows people to purchase firearms without a background check.

Jamie Pedersen
Jamie Pedersen

Jamie Pedersen is a Washington State Representative for District 43. Pedersen sponsored HB 3095 which would prohibit the possession of firearms by persons who have been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment under the 14-day commitment process.

Pam Roach
Pam Roach

Pam Roach was elected 31st District State Senator in 1990 and has just finished serving in her 20th legislative session. She has been a staunch supporter of gun rights throughout her time in the Legislature.

The Hypothetical Questions

Throughout the program, C.R. Douglas poses hypothetical questions to the guests, challenging them with situations that present difficult decisions and both moral and ethical dilemmas. Here are some of the hypothetical situations and questions we presented during the program. How would you answer them?

Imagine it is a beautiful summer Saturday afternoon at a street fair in Seattle. There are lots of booths with food and crafts and local businesses. There's some music and dancing. Would you feel more or less safe if you knew a large number of people in the crowd were legally carrying concealed weapons?

 

Suddenly, the unthinkable happens. Someone in the crowd opens fire. Chaos erupts. You get down. Someone next to you has a concealed weapon. Should they attempt to kill or disable the shooter?

Imagine they are successful and shoot the rampager, but accidentally wound a bystander in the process. Should the "good Samaritan" face any legal consequences for his actions?

Suppose another person carrying a concealed weapon accidentally shoots the good Samaritan, mistakenly believing he is the original shooter. Should the second good Samaritan face any legal consequences?

In the wake of the shooting, a close family members expresses a desire to purchase a gun and begin carrying it for protection. What would you tell them? Does it matter if it is an adult or a child?

The city of Seattle tried to enact gun restrictions a few years ago by banning guns in public parks. But the State Supreme Court ruled that measure violated state law. Should a city like Seattle be able to set its own gun regulations to deal with the unique problems of urban violence? (Provided, of course, that the laws don’t conflict with the U.S. constitution.)

Currently in Washington, people who purchase guns from a licensed dealer must undergo a background check, but not if they purchase the gun over the internet or at a gun show. Should Washington enact a law requiring that all gun sales in the state go through licensed dealers to ensure background checks on all individuals?

Imagine you own a gun store, and someone calls and reports that a family member is coming to purchase a gun, and that the family member has been erratic and behaving strangely lately? Would you sell the family member the gun?

Suppose when they arrive, the family member seems completely fine and stable. Would you still have reservations about selling them a gun based on the phone call?

If you could rewrite the Second Amendment, how, if at all, would you change it? Would you keep it at all?

C.R. Douglas:
Imagine it is a sunny, summer weekend in Seattle. All kinds of people are out doing things. They’re riding their bikes, they’re out on the lakes, they’re out at all of these community festivals, one of which is the Ballard Street Fair, which is a great event. It happens every year, hundreds of people go to it. They enjoy the arts, the crafts, the music, the food, all the rest. The only thing that’s different about this year’s Ballard Street Fair, and all the other fairs going on this summer, is that there’s a heightened worry among people around here because of all the violence that has taken place in Seattle and the region. And so you have more people at these events that are coming with concealed weapons. They’ve got concealed pistol licenses, they legally carrying firearms, and for instance at the Ballard Street Fair this year, there will be a handful of people there who will have concealed weapons because they are worried about that. Ralph Fascitelli, you and your family are going to the Ballard Street Fair. You do it every year, you love it, you like the food, you like the music, does it give you any pause? Are you worried at all when you know a handful of people will be there with concealed weapons, legally carrying a firearm?

Ralph Fascitelli:
Yes, it absolutely does. And C.R., it’s not just concealed weapons, it’s legal in the state to open carry, you know, uh, a loaded gun without a permit. So the risk is even more than you’re describing right now.

C.R. Douglas:
Would you not go to the Ballard Street Fair because you knew a handful of people had these concealed weapons?

Ralph Fascitelli:
No, I think we have to live our lives and definitely go, but I think we all have to be vigilant and, um, what I think this is a significant public health issue and what are we all gonna do about it?

C.R. Douglas:
Would you feel safer, less safe or the same at the Ballard Street Fair this year than last year because of those people with concealed weapons?

Ralph Fascitelli:
Well I feel about the same because I know the risk has always been there and I, I believe, um, the statistics that the risks commiserate with guns out there in the communities, the direct correlation between gun violence and the number of guns out there.

C.R. Douglas:
And let’s say you’re enjoying the street fair with your family and then suddenly the unthinkable happens: gun shots start. And there is a rampage there going on. He’s shooting, there’s chaos, people are ducking and yelling, they’re screaming. You and your family, you dive down. And next to you, another person dives down. And you see that he is actually pulling a pistol out from under his shirt. He’s one of these people with a concealed weapon. He’s ready to shoot that shooter that is there, mowing people down, four or five people have already been killed. Do you think, do you have any hesitation, that he ought to take that pistol full out and shoot that shooter?

Ralph Fascitelli:
I do, because it doesn’t work that way. You almost never hear of somebody with a concealed weapon permit who can deter, uh, a shooter, whether it’s that Virginia Tech, we had that incident with Gabby Giffords in Arizona. We actually had somebody with a concealed weapon, came around the corner, and almost shot the wrong person.

C.R. Douglas:
So he should just sit there and the shooter should just continue his rampage.

Ralph Fascitelli:
Well I think we should do what we can to prevent the shooter from doing any more violence.

C.R. Douglas:
But in that situation, you believe it would be what, too harmful, too dangerous, if he started shooting as well?

Ralph Fascitelli:
All I can do is look at the statistics. And it’s very difficult to shoot a handgun accurately, in the, in the heat of battle.

C.R. Douglas:
Without hitting some innocents.

Ralph Fascitelli:
Yes.

C.R. Douglas:
Alan Gottleib. You’re at the Ballard Street Fair too. And it turns out, you’re the guy sitting right next to Fascitelli and his family. You’re down, you’re ducking, and you are pulling out your concealed weapon. Do you have any hesitation to shoot that guy who is rampaging that street fair?

Alan Gottleib:
No, I’d like to save the lives of the people there, including Ralph’s.

C.R. Douglas:
And what if you’re shot has a whole bunch of people running in the background, and there’s chaos. Is there any hesitation if your shot isn’t perfect?

Alan Gottleib:
Well I’m fairly well-trained and I’ve had a lot of training out on gun ranges and through courses that deal with these kinds of things, so in my case, I wouldn’t be taking random shots.

C.R. Douglas:
But you’re clear what you would do in that kind of scenario.

Alan Gottleib:
Oh yes.

C.R. Douglas:
And let’s say you shoot and you get him. And you hit him right there in the heart, and he’s dead. You have stopped that rampager. And so for a moment, the shooting has stopped, but only for a moment. Because just a few seconds later, and another shot fires, and it turns out it hits you right there in the lower abdomen. And it is another person at the fair who also had a concealed weapon and he was pulling it out trying to do the same thing that you were doing, getting the rampager. He saw you with the gun, he got all confused and he shot you, and now you’re down, not dead, but probably severely paralyzed for the rest of your life. Were you safer that day because you and that other person had a concealed weapon?

Alan Gottleib:
Well I would probably be safer that day being there I’d be driving my Orbit Beal on the highway, or doing a lot of other things. I mean, the number of people that get shot that way are extremely slim, uh, anytime there’s an accident like that, it’s very unfortunate, uh, but the bottom line is that I’m glad I had my gun. I’m glad I did what I did. And I don’t want to become a statistic if I didn’t have a gun.

C.R. Douglas:
So it was worth it to you if it meant getting hurt by a mistaken shooter because you stopped that rampage and saved lives.

Alan Gottleib:
Well for the community as a whole, for civil society, it’s definitely good for them. Obviously it wouldn’t be good for me if I was shot, but I probably saved a lot of people.

C.R. Douglas:
Should anything happen to the person who shot you? I mean they were trying to stop a rampage just like you, but they actually accidentally hit you. You weren’t the guy. You’re paralyzed for life, would you sue him?

Alan Gottleib:
I surely wouldn’t want him prosecuted because I don’t believe he did anything intentional. And uh, I probably wouldn’t sue him. He was trying to do something good, for the good of everybody that was there, and his intent was good, and his result I don’t, I wouldn’t prosecute him, and I wouldn’t sue him.

C.R. Douglas:
Ralph Fascitelli, the shooter is now dead, he has killed six people, injured several others, now, Alan Gottleib has been injured. You and your family are unharmed, but you certainly could have been. Do you think you owe Alan Gottleib some thanks for what he did? He stopped that rampage, very likely saved lives, he could have even saves you and your family’s lives.

Ralph Fascitelli:
C.R., this is a book of fiction. Because there are 300 million guns in society, in this country, You know, there are many incidents. Where have we ever witnessed this scenario actually happening?

C.R. Douglas:
Well we have plenty of rampages don’t we?

Ralph Fascitelli:
We do, but we don’t have rampages where somebody with a concealed weapons permit, came out and actually shot, uh, the perpetrator…

C.R. Douglas:
But don’t we want those?

Ralph Fascitelli:
Um, uh..

C.R. Douglas:
Don’t we wish the perpetrators were shot?

Ralph Fascitelli:
I don’t want a vigilante society where everybody is shooting randomly at people because it’s been proven that it’s not effective. I mean, it might work well in theory but it doesn’t work well in practice because in the heat of the moment, you know, when these things happen. Ask [one of the victims of] Virginia Tech, somebody asked him, don’t you wish you had a gun. You talk to people who have been in the middle of this and they said, you were just scared beyond the point of reasonable action. And even if you had a gun, he’s be too shaky, frozen, paralyzed with fear to actually do anything.

C.R. Douglas:
So you, you wouldn’t actually thank Mr. Gottleib for what he did that day.

Ralph Fascitelli:
I don’t believe it would happen the way you’re um, um talking about it because it hasn’t happened.

C.R. Douglas:
And if it did?

Ralph Fascitelli:
I still consider it a book of fiction.

Alan Gottleib
You know Ralph’s not exactly accurate with his statistics and numbers here. Every single day, somebody in this country uses a firearm to defend themselves and their family property against criminal attack. And I read stories across my desk all the time, you know, and they’re on T.V., they’re on the radio. They may not make as much publicity and when someone goes off and does something, you know, bad with a firearm, but I’ll tell ya, there’s hundreds of thousands of incidences a year in the United States where somebody does use a gun to protect themselves and the people around them.

C.R. Douglas:
Jenny Durkan. You prosecute bad guys. Is anything prosecutable in this scenario? I mean there’s no question that Alan Gottleib did the right thing, correct?

Jenny Durkan:
Mhm. One thing I would want to look at is how did the bad guy get his gun. Um.

C.R. Douglas:
Well let’s not get into that quite yet. Let’s just talk about Alan Gottleib. You’re not gonna bring him up for charges, are you?

Jenny Durkan:
No.

C.R. Douglas:
Are you gonna bring the person who shot Alan Gottleib up for charges?

Jenny Durkan:
That would depend upon whether they legally had the gun or not.

C.R. Douglas:
If they did, they tried to stop it, and they actually shot someone.

Jenny Durkan:
They legally had it..I don’t believe that’s a prosecutable crime.

C.R. Douglas:
They were doing what they thought was good.

Jenny Durkan:
Yep, they have the right to try to defend others.

C.R. Douglas:
And what if, in the context of Alan’s shooting, he gets some other people. He gets the gunman, he gets a few others, some other accidents. Maybe kills, certainly injures. Still not prosecutable.

Jenny Durkan:
No crime has been committed. There may be civil offenses and people may have civil liability but no crime has been committed.

C.R. Douglas:
Now shootings like the one we’re describing, uh, are extreme but they certainly do happen. I mean we’ve had a handful of these public rampages here in our region, but that’s only one kind of event, the public rampage. We also have the private settings where intruders come armed, and may or may not get away with it. Public settings, private settings. Our producer, Terry Murphy, looked at these kind of two extremes and how they frame our debate about guns. Let’s watch that.

Dave Ross. Back to this horrible street rampage in Ballard. You’ve heard the scenario, you’re heard what Mr. Gottleib did.

Dave Ross:
I’m never going to a street fair again.

C.R. Douglas:
[laughs] Do you agree with what he did?

Dave Ross:
If, uh, it turns out as you say, yes. I think, uh as Ralph said, this is a utopian universe you’re talking about where, uh, the gun is the hands of someone well-trained, who knows how to shoot it, and hits his target the first time. Now, I know gun owners. When I know the gun owner and trust him, I’m fine with it. It’s the guy that I don’t know who I have a problem with.

C.R. Douglas:
But aren’t there going to be a lot of people at the Ballard Street Fair that you don’t know?

Dave Ross:
That’s exactly right. So, if I show up at a street fair for example, and there are a lot of people openly carrying their firearms, like if I encountered, let’s say, a dozen of them as I was going booth to booth.

C.R. Douglas:
And that’s legal in Washington.

Dave Ross:
I would probably go home. Because that tells me that there are enough people concerned that something bad is going to happen that maybe I should find a safer street fair.

C.R. Douglas:
But what if you knew that at the Ballard Street Fair, this year, there was gonna be more than usual concealed weapons carriers.

Dave Ross:
If, I’m the kind of guy who if I don’t see it, it doesn’t particularly scare me. Uh, so yes, if one hundred percent of them were carrying concealed weapons and didn’t print it on their jackets so I could tell, then I wouldn’t be worried.

C.R. Douglas:
Now let’s say that among the street fair goers that day was your daughter.

Dave Ross:
Mmhm.

C.R. Douglas:
And she was near this rampager, she ducked for cover, like everyone did, she was behind a booth. Luckily, she did not get killed, but of course, she could have, if Mr. Gottleib had not taken the shooter out. She wasn’t injured but she was scared in this way: she’s forever fearful of being in that type of situation again. And she comes to you and she says, ‘I’m going to buy a handgun. I’m going to get a concealed weapons permit because I don’t ever want to be unarmed in that type of situation.’ What would you tell her?

Dave Ross:
Get trained. Make sure you know how to use it. Make sure you know how to use it properly, and make sure you’re ready to take responsibility for killing someone else by mistake. Because once you decide to arm yourself, that can very easily happen.

C.R. Douglas:
But you wouldn’t talk her out of it.

Dave Ross:
I would not try to. She’s grown now.

C.R. Douglas:
What if she wanted to bring the gun into your home.

Dave Ross:
I would trust her.

C.R. Douglas:
You would be fine with that?

Dave Ross:
Yeah, yeah. I wouldn’t, if there were kids around, I’d make sure it was out of reach, and I would assume that since she’s my daughter she’d be very responsible in the way she handled it. Uh, but no. I would not..If she had been through that, and uh, knowing that I’ve raised her to have good judgment, and that’s what she decided she’d have to do, I’m not going to try and talk her out of it.

C.R. Douglas:
John Carlson. You were not at the Ballard Street Fair that day. You were busy doing your radio show. But in fact you heard about it and it was big news. You talked all about it on your show for several days. In your mind did Mr. Gottleib did the right thing?

John Carlson:
Yes, he did the right thing for the reason that Dave said. He was trained and he knew what he was doing. He was acting deliberatively, and so he was trying to save other people’s lives, probably did.

C.R. Douglas:
But what if someone wasn’t as well trained as Alan Gottleib? Maybe hadn’t taken the classes. But was there with a concealed weapon, obviously to try and stop something like that. Should they encounter it?

John Carlson:
I think if you are not trained, then you should not carry. Uh, when I was a lot younger, and a lot more single, I once dated a woman who told me she carried a gun, but she didn’t have, and she applied for a concealed weapons permit, and I said how many times have you been to the range? Have you had lessons? No, and no. I said, ‘Then get rid of the gun.’

C.R. Douglas:
But right now in Washington State, we don’t require any training. You can get a handgun, you can get a concealed pistol license. I mean if your point is these people should be trained, would you support a state law that, that mandated training?

John Carlson:
I wouldn’t support state laws that mandate training because I don’t think the problem we have is with people who are walking with concealed carry permits. If you’ve got five people over here who are concealed, carry individuals and you’ve got five gang members between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, none of whom are legally allowed to carry a handgun, where would you feel safer? I feel perfectly safe among people who have concealed carry permits.

C.R. Douglas:
Let’s say someone comes up to you after this rampage, and after the series of rampages we’ve had, and says they want to eliminate all the gun-free zones in Washington because right now there are some. I mean, you can’t take a gun to a school, to a university. Can’t take it to the stadiums, can’t take them to courtrooms, can’t take them to bars, can’t take them to the airport. There are some gun-free zones. And let’s say someone comes to you and says, ‘John, you’re a media guy. You know politics. I want you to help us out. Help us eliminate the gun-free zones in Washington. Is that a good idea? Would you help them?

John Carlson:
I think that gun-free zones are themselves a utopia that Ralph was referring to. Virginia Tech was a gun-free zone.

C.R. Douglas:
And, and less safe because of it?

John Carlson:
Well, that’s my point is what makes people think that someone willing to break laws against murder and armed robbery will say, ‘Oh wait, I can’t carry a gun there. It’s a gun-free zone.’

C.R. Douglas:
Well would you support an initiative that would eliminate gun-free zones in Washington? You could carry a gun anywhere.

John Carlson:
You could make a good case against not carrying guns in bars. You can make a good case against carrying guns in courtrooms, particularly in family courts. I think our prosecutor here, you know, would probably agree with me strongly on that. But, by and large, simply saying you know, for instance, the Seattle Center. Uh, some Seattle City Council members, our former mayor, said if we have a problem in this town, we should make it illegal to carry a gun…In Seattle Center, I think that’s silly.

C.R. Douglas:
You want to create a gun-free zone? And would you therefore support the elimination of the gun-free zone in universities and colleges?

John Carlson:
You see I don’t think that gun-free zones make areas truly safer. All they do is keep law-abiding people, because you respect the law, you follow the law, they keep law-abiding people from protecting themselves and others.

C.R. Douglas:
Ralph Fascitelli. The gun-free zones in Washington. Do you like them? Do you want to expand them?

Ralph Fascitelli:
I do, and I think, um, these are private businesses with a right to decide whether or not they have guns in their establishments or not. I mean that’s a libertarian viewpoint.

C.R. Douglas:
Universities aren’t private businesses. Community colleges aren’t.

Ralph Fascitelli:
You know, I think we ought to look at the facts. And the facts is that when you have a gun on-site, in the home, you’re twenty-two times more likely to kill a family member or friend, then to protect yourself on that. So, we’re not a violent society, but you know, any more violent than Canada or New Zealand on a per-capita basis. But what happens is, you know, when the violence does happen, when there’s domestic violence dispute, and there’s a gun there, lethality happens because of that.

C.R. Douglas:
In terms of the places you would add on the list of gun-free zones, what would be next? Parks?

Ralph Fascitelli:
Well I think absolutely parks. Community parks, national parks, city parks. Well I think cities absolutely have the right to decide whether they want to have guns or not.

C.R. Douglas:
Alan Gottleib, gun-free zones. You like them?

Alan Gottleib:
They don’t work. They’ve become victim disarmament zones. And we have a track record all across the country showing they don’t work. Uh, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

C.R. Douglas:
And why don’t they work?

Alan Gottleib:
They don’t work because criminals intend on breaking the law. He doesn’t care if he’s taking a gun into a gun-free zone. He’s gonna do it anyway. And that’s the whole point. You’re dealing with a criminal element and criminal mind, passing one more law isn’t going to stop them from breaking a series of laws.

C.R. Douglas:
Dave Ross.

Dave Ross:
I believe there should be a gun-free zone if it’s enforceable. As at the airport. The airport is a gun-free zone so nobody has got one. Uh, the signs are sort of a feel-good measure. Uh, and I think we all know that. I don’t know if I’d be so hot on running an initiative to repeal because I don’t think it means that much anyway. Sometimes it makes people feel good because they think there’s a sign there, so maybe people won’t bring a gun. But to me, um, if we’re really talking about solving the problem, you have to disarm everybody. And that can only be done in certain zones.

C.R. Douglas:
Jenny Durkan, As a prosecutor, as a law enforcement official, are you able to get guns out of the hands of criminals in these gun-free zones? Are you able because of university’s restrictions to go in there and do that? Or at stadiums? Or at other places?

Jenny Durkan:
One thing that definitely helps is we are seen on the streets of Seattle more and more that in the cases where guns are used to commit crimes, more often now, those guns are taken from people who have them lawfully in home burglaries. So if you flood the zone, like a university, with legal guns, it is more likely that people will break in and steal those guns, and use them on the universities. So I do think that that’s a factor, and I think we do need to think about responsibility. People who own guns need to lock them up, because we’re seeing more and more guns on the street from home burglaries. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t have guns, it just means they have to be careful. And I also believe training is important.

C.R. Douglas:
When it comes to changing rules on gun laws, it is very difficult in Washington because of this pre-emption law, which we will talk about. I mean, Seattle tried to ban guns in parks a few years ago, and it was slapped down by the courts. But when it comes to gun laws, does one size fit all? Here again is Terry Murphy. [gun regulation in parks segment] Jamie Pedersen. You are a state lawmaker. You are the head of committee down in Olympia that hears all gun legislation. Pete Holmes, the city attorney of Seattle, who we just saw there, comes to you and says, ‘Hey, help us out.’ We, Seattle, want to be able to ban guns in certain places. Maybe parks, maybe community centers, but you, state lawmakers, won’t let us because of a law that doesn’t allow cities to do that. Please change that, he asks you. What do you say to him?

Jamie Pedersen:
Well, I guess, the first thing I’d say is that it’s going to be a big challenge because that’s not where a majority of legislators are. And so,

C.R. Douglas:
But why not?

Jamie Pedersen:
Uh, the fact is that the public in our state has not been convinced at this point that, that that is where we ought to be. They understand that there is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. That is an individual right in our state, and um, pretty consistently when we look at these questions..

C.R. Douglas:
But you represent Seattle. You represent a constituency that’s worried about guns.

Jamie Pedersen:
There’s no question that if it were up to the voters in my district, that we would pass, probably substantial gun control legislation, that would be popular in Central Seattle.

C.R. Douglas:
So you tell Pete Holmes, ‘Sorry, you’re out of luck.’

Jamie Pedersen:
Well, I’d tell Pete Holmes that there’s a lot of work to do if you want to get to the point of passing something in Olympia.

C.R. Douglas:
And what is that work that we need to be doing?

Jamie Pedersen:
I think it starts with data. I mean we’ve talked a lot about the question of how do we know what’s, uh, what’s effective. Uh, how do we know what actually causes crimes and what prevents crimes. I think another thing we’d have to think about is do we have the means to force such a ban. So the point was made earlier on airports, uh about courtrooms, where we put the resources in to do screenings, making sure people don’t bring guns into those settings. There the bans are quite successful.

C.R. Douglas:
But do you agree with Pete Holmes, the thrust of his argument, which is cities ought to be allowed to do different things. If Seattle wants to do something, and Auburn wants to do something else, they should be allowed to.

Jamie Pedersen:
Personally, I feel strongly that the voters in a local jurisdiction as long as they are merely regulating time, place and manner of use ought to be able to do that. But what I’m telling you is there isn’t a consensus on that in Olympia.

C.R. Douglas:
Well, let me ask you about another potential law, because it turns out our street shooter got his firearm through a private seller. He went on the internet, and bought it. Didn’t have to go through a background check, because you don’t have to in Washington if you go through a private seller. And it turns out, if he had gone through a licensed dealer, who would have had to go through a background check, he wouldn’t have qualified. He has a drug felony conviction on his record, and that is one thing of many that disqualifies you from being able to purchase a firearm, but because he went on a private seller on the internet, he could do it, and he went out and rampaged in Ballard. Ralph Fascitelli comes to you because Cease Fire, his organization, wants to ban that. That is to say, he wants to require any sale of any gun to go through a background check. Would you push that?

Jamie Pedersen:
I guess I would have some technical questions to start out with, such as how would you enforce that and what would be the proposed penalties for someone, a private seller, who doesn’t comply with the background check. And I think the other problem that we’d have is that there would be a substantial uphill battle to get that legislation even out of committee.

C.R. Douglas:
Because why? You’re a Democrat. Democrats like this stuff don’t they? You control both houses, you control the governor’s mansion. What’s the problem down there?

Jamie Pedersen:
Uh, I don’t think you can make that blanket statement about Democrats. Uh, this is an issue that would divide the Democrats, and they’re clearly people who feel strongly that they support additional restrictions on gun owners and the purchase of firearms. And then there are some of the most ardent, gun rights supporters, who are Democrat.

C.R. Douglas:
What would NRA do if you pushed that kind of measure? Let’s say you pushed to try and get every sale of guns to require a background check, with the NRA-target Democrats, especially in swing districts.

Jamie Pedersen:
I don’t know that they would target Democrats necessarily. They would target the opponents and there’s no question that they are very effective in terms of turning out people who care about gun rights.

C.R. Douglas:

Pam Roach:
. You’re in the state legislature. You’re in the judiciary committee in the Senate. You hear gun legislation. It turns out that one of the victims of the Ballard Street Fair lived in your district. He was a young man. He was there with his mom. He got mowed down. He was one of the first people killed by the rampager. She comes to you after she has learned that this gunman got his firearm off the internet. Wouldn’t of qualified if he gone to a private, rather, a local gun shop because they would have had to do a background check. She comes to you and says, ‘Please help me. My son was just killed. I need you to champion, to get every gun owner in Washington to get a background check.’ What would you say to her?

Pam Roach:
Firstly, I express my condolences and heartfelt that it would be, and then I would have to fall back on what the people in the district were thinking. We’re not going to have a world where some bad things don’t happen. So the larger issue is what you have to look at. And at this case we’re looking at freedom: a right to bear arms, the Second Amendment. And we’re looking at..

C.R. Douglas:
You just tell her, The Second Amendment, I don’t…

Pam Roach:
No, no, no, you can have this discussion, and it can be in front of the house judiciary committee, the Senate judiciary committee, and I think that there may be support for something like that. Where or not..

C.R. Douglas:
Would you support it?

Pam Roach:
Well like Pedersen, I would have to see the details on it and the ramifications of it. I definitely support state pre-emption, without looking at anything that would allow one city doing one thing, Seattle doing something, and Auburn isn’t able to do it.

C.R. Douglas:
Why is that a problem?

Pam Roach:
Well generally, because you don’t want a patchwork of laws. You don’t want to leave Auburn and be legal because you had a concealed weapons permit and you have a weapon, and then you go through Kent, where it’s okay, and then swing into Burien on the highway, and it’s not okay, and then you go through Tukwila and work your way up to Seattle…

C.R. Douglas:
But don’t we have local jurisdictions that have different kinds of laws? There’s a whole bunch of different things.

Pam Roach:
The state pre-emption for firearms is very important, and it’s been put together by two individuals, so everyone on the panel here would remember: Phil Talmadge, who was a former Supreme Court judge, uh justice, and was a former member of the judiciary committee, a Democrat, and Senator Kent Pullen got together, one Republican, one Democrat and came up with a trade. And one of the things that came about was we would have a state pre-emption to disallow this patchwork, this ‘I’m legal, I’m not legal, I’m legal, I’m not legal’ as you go through just a highway.

C.R. Douglas:
And you’re for that, but you don’t have a specific, clear answer to the woman who comes up to you, who has lost her son, who wants you to do something, especially with regards to increasing the number of background checks that are done on gun sales.

Pam Roach:
I think that um, this is something that might be something we can discuss, but in general, when it comes to eliminating somebody’s ability, I’m not in favor of it. But we already have the requirement to have individuals have a check to get a concealed weapons permit. You pay forty-five dollars, your fingerprints, all ten of them, go back east, and then you are, everything is checked and if you pass you will get a concealed weapons permit. It seems to me there is already a precedent for doing that.

C.R. Douglas:
Ralph Fascitelli. Your group wants to get every single sale of a gun in Washington to be done with background check. Is that correct?

Ralph Fascitelli:
Absolutely.

C.R. Douglas:
How many lives would that save?

Ralph Fascitelli:
Well, we would lose six hundred lives a year. We’ve lost more lives in the past ten years in this state than all U.S. combat death in Afghanistan and Iraq. So, let’s say we save two percent. You know then we’re talking about a hundred and twenty lives over a ten year period. The point is gun legislation works, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, with Dr. David Hemenway, the state’s comprehensive gun legislation have one-sixth the level of gun death versus those states that have the least restrictive gun laws. So gun legislation does work. I’m disappointed to hear Representative Pedersen say that, you know, the people don’t support this. Our polls show that eighty percent of people in this state support an assault weapons ban and they support closing the gun show loophole, and we need more conviction from Seattle legislatures to push this through because the people in Seattle in our own polling, ninety-eight percent of Democrats in the city of Seattle want to close the gun show loophole.

C.R. Douglas:
Pam Roach?

Pam Roach:
I don’t know where he’s getting these statistics. We had a state-wide initiative that gave us for sure what people are thinking, and it was defeated. You can go down to a liberal city like Olympia where they’ve attempted to change the law making it very restrictive to have a gun, and it was, even in a liberal city like that, defeated. So the people of this state, as a whole, represented by Pedersen, is absolutely correct.

C.R. Douglas:
But Ralph Fascitelli. This rampager in Ballard, was going to get a gun anyway. I mean he got it on the internet. He knew they weren’t going to do a background check.

Ralph Fascitelli:
Well, we shouldn’t make it easier for them. If we toughen the concealed weapons permit process and put may instead of shell, and then put police jurisdiction on who can get a concealed weapons permit, that just makes it a little tougher. This is a public health issue, and as Pete Holmes said, we need to take incremental steps, and there is no panacea. But all these things: assault weapons ban, closing the gun show loophole, making it, the penalties for a possession of a firearm for people under twenty-one, that much punitive would be effective.

C.R. Douglas:
Alan Gottleib. What about that? Maybe it’s not a panacea but maybe closing this so-called loophole that allowed private sellers to transfer guns without any background check can get in the hands of felons easily that way. Why are you so opposed to that?

Alan Gottleib:
Well, the problem is that it doesn’t work. We put all of our time and effort into resources, police manpower into something that isn’t going to stop a person from getting a gun illegally anyway. And it’s an intrusion that doesn’t work. And we’ve seen it all across the country. So the problem is let’s work on something that might work. Don’t worry about getting the guns off the street. Get the criminals off the street.

C.R. Douglas:
Jenny Durkan. Is there anything you can do with the Ballard shooter who got his guns over the internet, but he was a convicted felon. Is there anything you can do?

Jenny Durkan:
Yes.

C.R. Douglas:
To either him or the seller.

Jenny Durkan:
Yes. I mean he’s dead now, so there’s not much left we can do to him. But we can, we will and do always try to go upstream, and we have gone to gun shows. When I came into office, we went on an undercover operation, it was a long-term operation on gun shows, and we were able to arrest and convict four people who had high-volume private sales at gun shows. They were under the guise of private sellers, but they weren’t. It was their business.

C.R. Douglas:
Because what does state law say? It can only be a hobby. So if it’s high-volume, you assume they’re in business and therefore they need a license.

Jenny Durkan:
That’s right. And we were able to show those guns were used to kill Officer Timothy Brenton, of the Seattle Police Department, that was sold illegally at the gun shows. So we were able to take four people, convict them, and take hundreds of weapons off the street. So there are some gun shows that are very good about making sure that everyone walking into that gun show has gone through some kind of background check. And there are gun shows that are very good about making sure private sellers really are hobbyists. But there are some that aren’t. And for those who aren’t, people who are pretending they’re private sellers, we will investigate them, and we will prosecute them.

C.R. Douglas:
Dave Ross. Do you believe that one legitimate response to this Ballard shooting is for the state to require all sales of guns, whether they be private or at a gun shop, that background check must be done.

Dave Ross:
Well if you’re serious about keeping the guns out of the hands of bad people then you have to hold the sellers responsible for who they sell guns to. So if there’s a way to easily get around that that would have to be closed. But I don’t think this is actually going to happen. There won’t be the political will until some terrorist ordering guns over the internet or from gun shows or from wherever where background checks aren’t required, or maybe even where there are, arms himself with guns and sets up some sort of killing zone because until something horrible like that happens, you can’t change people’s minds.

C.R. Douglas:
If background checks have flagged some people, why not require them for all gun sales?

John Carlson:
Because there are better ideas that will do so much more good. I’ll give you an example. We were talking hypothetically about some issues a moment ago. Fifteen years ago I lead an initiative drive. It’s called, “Hard Time For Armed Crime”, that said if you illegally possess a gun as a felon, if you illegally obtain a gun, if you illegally sell a gun, then you will get real, hard time in prison added to your sentence. When you hear about firearm’s enhancements. That is what that’s referring to. Now, that applies to adults. There is a drive lead by King County prosecutor, Dan Satterberg to try and extend that to juveniles because in Seattle, a disproportionate amount of armed gun violence is happening at the hands of juvenile gang members, or just juveniles, period. And the penalty for a juvenile caught with a gun in his backpack in Downtown Seattle at one in the morning is zero. Zero to thirty days and he probably won’t get any time at all. If he’s caught a second time: same penalty. If he’s caught a third, and a fourth time, it’s the same penalty. So basically, Dan Satterberg says why aren’t we getting serious about young people caught with illegal firearms from the get-go. And he’s having a very difficult time getting Seattle legislatures to back him up. You would think that this would be a layup, this would be easy to get Republicans and Democrats together, but for some reason people who want to get to that gun show loophole or allow law-abiding people to walk through Seattle Center with a concealed carry permit, they pull up short when it comes to getting tough on juvenile gang members possessing a firearm. Why?

C.R. Douglas:
Jamie Pedersen?

Jamie Pedersen:
Well I think the bill in question is the Senate Bill 53.13. If you look at the fiscal note about five million bucks a biennium are the jail costs then a capital expense of thirty-two million dollars to build the jail to hold the people. It is real money, and in an environment we’ve been in for the last four years, where we are cutting people’s healthcare off, where we don’t have any money to pay for school, where we’re increasing tuition by seventeen percent a year at the University of Washington, we have not had the money to launch new crimes, new initiatives really of any sort.

C.R. Douglas:
I mean John Carlson, what in the Ballard shooter scenario…How could you have prevented that? Just by getting tougher on juveniles, that doesn’t answer the Ballard shooter..

John Carlson:
Yeah, but again in the real world much of the violence we see in Seattle this year, and we’ve already had through the first half of this year, more homicides than we’ve had in the entire last year. The problem is that a lot of armed violence is happening at the hands of juveniles. And I would point out Jamie, Representative Pedersen, that the juvenile facility here in the city, the youth center, is less than half full. There’s plenty of room for, for young troublemakers and thugs who carry weapons to do, you know, five months, eight months, a year. But they don’t get the penalties because those penalties don’t exist in law. And attempts to make that, to change that, are being resisted by the very people who support gun control. I don't get that.

C.R. Douglas:
Jenny Durkan?

Jenny Durkan:
I think that we have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. So I think it’s a false choice to say should we do this or should we do that. I think we have to have stricter gun laws, stricter enforcement, but at the same time, background checks do work. We prevent a number of felons and people that are mentally ill from getting weapons every year. We need to make sure that mental health people have the ability to make sure that the people who are sick don’t get guns. Those laws need to be enforced, and we need to have to resources so that the families have somewhere to turn.

C.R. Douglas:
Alan Gottleib. You have become a hero because of what you did at that Ballard shooting. Been on the front of papers, been on the national news, and because of that you’ve kind of decided to open a gun shop. You want more people to own guns, you want more people to have concealed weapons permits. You’ve got Alan’s Guns, and you’re doing quite well with that. And one day, you get a call. And a guy says, my brother’s about to come in. Please don’t sell him a gun. He’s out of work, low on money, girlfriend broke up with him, seems really despondent. I’m worried about him. He may be suicidal, I don't know. He may go out and do some damage to the girlfriend. I mean just please don’t sell him the gun. A couple hours later, a guy fitting that description walks into your gun shop. Do you sell him a gun?

Alan Gottleib:
I would be very leery about selling him a gun and I’d try to talk him out of it, and probably because of all the dealings I’ve had with this, I probably would not sell him a gun. But probably he would walk on the street and buy a gun somewhere else, or get a gun some way anyway, but I probably wouldn’t sell it to him. I would be very cautious. Uh, I caution people now who aren’t gun dealers. Don’t sell guns to any body you don’t know, and if you do, make sure they have the proper identification and you run a background check through the Washington State background check system.

C.R. Douglas:
What if he seemed good? What if he walked in and he was nothing like his brother described? Seems fine, he seems good. He wanted to take classes, he wanted to buy the trigger locks, storage things, wanted to learn all about it, you know. Would you…

Alan Gottleib:
He would sound like a safe bet, wouldn’t he? He sounds like an average person coming off the street, exercising his right.

C.R. Douglas:
So what would you do?

Alan Gottleib:
I would sell him the firearm.

C.R. Douglas:
Okay. Even if you’ve had this alert from his brother?

Alan Gottleib:
Well probably if he came in with that demeanor, I would probably assume he probably wasn’t the person that his brother called me up about. I would think it was somebody else.

C.R. Douglas:
What if a psychiatrist calls you?

Alan Gottleib:
That would probably have a lot more weight with me. But again, one of the problems with psychiatrists is the client-doctor privilege, you know, and they wouldn’t be calling me is the problem. A lot of our laws we have right now, the problem is people with mental problems, we don’t know about it, because it is, they’re not junicated in a court of law. That’s the case we've had with the violence in Seattle with people who haven’t been stable. So nobody knows about it.

C.R. Douglas:
Dave Ross, you hear about this. I mean, there are calls. He comes in, should Alan sell it?

Dave Ross:
No. Obviously not. And he said he wouldn’t if he was convinced it was the guy. What concerns me is, uh, he’s saying this guy goes into the next gun shop and buys it anyway.

Alan Gottleib:
Probably.

Dave Ross:
But that’s not good, because gun control is basically now in the hands of people like the proprietor of Alan’s Guns, or the proprietor of, you know, Ed’s Guns, down the street. We now have basically put our safety in their hands and trust them to do the right background checks, and not to sell guns to somebody who would misuse them.

C.R. Douglas:
Do you believe we should change state law? I mean, right now to get denied, you know, to be denied a background check, the big ones, you know, can’t be under twenty-one, can’t have had a felony conviction, can’t have had a domestic violence offense, can’t have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for fourteen days. Those are the big disqualifiers.

Dave Ross:
I think there should be a no-buy list. Kind of like the no-fly list.

C.R. Douglas:
And what would make that? How would you get on that list?

Dave Ross:
Whatever, you’d have to write legislation that in a way that Ian Stawicki could have put his son on it.

C.R. Douglas:
He, of course, is the Café Racer shooter. He had had some problems. Never been in a mental institution as far as I know, certainly not for fourteen days. Everything we know about him, he qualified to have a permit. Do you believe someone’s drug addiction should be a disqualifier?

Dave Ross:
Yes.

C.R. Douglas:
Do you believe someone who’s schizophrenic?

Dave Ross:
Yes.

C.R. Douglas:
Psychotic?

Dave Ross:
Yes.

John Carlson:
You understand, I agree with Dave on that, however, keep in mind if there was a proposal that would make it more difficult for those who are mentally ill to obtain a firearm, most of opposition would not come from gun rights supporters or the NRA, it would come from civil rights activists within the mental health community.

C.R. Douglas:
Would you disagree if we added these things: drug addiction, psychosis, schizophrenia?

Alan Gottleib:
Actually drug addiction is, it would disqualify you right now under federal law. When you go to buy a firearm, not only get a permit, you have to sign that you’re not addicted to any drugs, or taking any illegal substances. So some of those are already in the law, but you know the problem is people lie. You pass a law, a person wants to break a law is going to break it anyway. And that’s why gun control doesn’t work. It’s based on shifting sands for a foundation.

C.R. Douglas:
Ralph Fascitelli, what would you do? What would you put on that list? Especially under the mental health criteria to disqualify someone.

Ralph Fascitelli:
Well you know we did come together with the NRA and Alan’s group a couple years ago to pass a bill that denied gun rights to people who involuntarily committed for fourteen days or more, which I think was good. The problem is people can still go around to a gun show, you know, and buy a gun. I would put domestic violence on that list as well because here’s part of the issue. The gun rights groups are looking at bad guys and the good guys. There’s a big group in the middle, unstable people, and when they have an event, let’s say, they’re mad at their wife, they’re mad at their girlfriend, and there’s a gun handy. Then you’ve got an argument that turns into a funeral. But, so domestic violence is a big issue here, and suicide is another big issue. Forty percent of guns out in circulation now, according to a study by the Brady campaign, came from a gun show. So the problem is there’s no record keeping, so that’s why we have the debate, you know, Mr. Gottleib says one percent, the Brady campaign says forty percent, how do we know? There’s no record keeping.

Pam Roach:
It’s not that there’s no record keeping. I’m sorry I don’t know how you came up with the forty percent. And not only that, when you’ve got individuals who are actually selling, I don’t know why we don’t have Pam’s Guns, but in fact, if we’re selling…

C.R. Douglas:
Then who would you sell to, and who would you not sell to?

Pam Roach:
I have the same answer as Alan would, but the point is that I think that I think, well I just think this.

C.R. Douglas:
Would you champion a state law that allowed…

Pam Roach:
Here’s what I’d like to do and I’ll volunteer to do it with Representative Pedersen if he’d like to, and that is, a proposal legislation to get tough on juveniles that are breaking this law. And I think that that’s something we can all work together on. There’s no one who’s not gonna like that, though I’ve been told here maybe some in Downtown Seattle. The reason for that is this:

C.R. Douglas:
Where is the money going to come from?

Pam Roach:
If you’re living in some neighborhoods and you’re sixteen and seventeen, do you have the right to peacefully walk from one neighborhood to another in the middle of the night? We don’t have curfews, that’s the issue, and the resolution to that is having stronger law enforcement in the first place. Getting tough on the gangs, which is exactly what Dan Satterberg, our prosecutor, would do, and tighten the laws…

C.R. Douglas:
How do you stop the Café Racer shooter?

Pam Roach:
I don’t think you stop them all. I don't think that’s going to happen. But I know one thing that does curtail the rampages and so forth, would be to have an armed citizenry. I think what Alan was able to do in our scenario was a very good one. You’re forgetting things like the church in Colorado where a huge congregation, and this grandma who stops the rampage with her firearm.

C.R. Douglas:
More guns is a safer society?

Pam Roach:
Actually yes that’s the case. Because remember, if you don’t have any guns, like Virginia or any school, quite frankly in airports you can still go in until you go through the little aisles, anyone can come in there. It’s open season for someone that wants, some coward who wants to come in, knows there’s no one is going to stop them. It’s actually baiting people to come in when you don't, when they know there’s no one there to stop them.

C.R. Douglas:
Ralph Fascitelli?

Ralph Fascitelli:
We have to have a faction of support. We’ve got to find, you know, that balance between personal freedoms, Second Amendment, we’ve got to agree on that and public safety. Here’s the facts: in Washington State, six million people, we’ve got six hundred gun deaths a year. How many guns? I mean, a million or two guns…In the United Kingdom, where there are no guns, and we’re not proposing that, but still a country of sixty million people, forty-two homicides a year via a gun. So, more guns, more gun violence. We’re not gonna be the UK, but we can cut the number in half with middle ground solutions like John Carlson, you know, recommended as part of it, closing the gun show loophole, and other middle ground, common sense solutions.

C.R. Douglas:
Jenny Durkan? Anything on that?

Jenny Durkan:
You know, I think that the, you know, the gun show loophole is one – it’s overstated and understated. And what it means is, if you sell a gun, it should go to the people in the right hands. We’re talking about who should own guns. And the question, with the gun background check does is it makes sure that the people at the first instance that you’re selling to don’t have a criminal record, don't have a mental health history, don't have a drug history and the like. And I think there’s ways to get around what Alan says. You know, we can’t let the infrastructure of the computer system stop us from running background checks. I think we can fix that, and I think that having some system to make sure that when a gun changes hands, we know who’s getting it, is a good idea.

C.R. Douglas:
As we close out, raise your hands if you feel more guns equals more safety. Raise your hands if you think more guns equals less safety. We thank you all.

-->

Add new comment

  • All comments are subject to approval.
  • KCTS9.org reserves the right to remove posts, at our discretion, which include inflammatory comments, comments that are off-topic, personal attacks or obscene language, or that are otherwise deemed objectionable.
  • By submitting your comment for publication on KCTS9.org, you agree to abide by our terms of service: http://kcts9.org/terms-conditions

Supported by