The Gottlieb (CCRKBA) Dilemma

E-Mail Feedback Received Regarding Washington HB 1424

E-Mail Feedback Received At GOA Regarding Washington HB 1424

Note: All names (except those of public figures), addresses, and e-mail addresses have been redacted. At the time of posting, ALL e-mail which was either negative towards GOA or which supported the Gottlieb action were included.

Some materials below are exchanges of e-mail which were forwarded to GOA. In most such cases, the order of mail is from last to first.


Another response from my Washington State Legislature concerning the recent attempts to pass the storage bill. Appears to be another supporter in our corner.

Sincerely,

RR

 

To: XXXXXXXXX
Subject: RE: Lock Up Bills
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 15:52:20 -0800
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2232.9)
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable

Thanks for your note. Rep. Kessler doesn't vote for any gun control bills. And she's a crack shot!

Glory DeGarmo, Executive Assistant to Rep. Lynn Kessler


Dear CCRKBA and SAF

Thank you for your response. I am still not going to change my stance or belief that you are supporting the gun control measures in both bills. I refer to the February 10, 1999 edition of Gun Week, page two with the article titled "Washington State Solons Eye Mixed Bag of Gun Legislation." Mr. Gottlieb is quoted as saying "We support the coalition bill." Three paragraphs later it tells about the coalition bill. It states 1. "Allows prosecutors to charge gunowners with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, if a child finds and uses a loaded gun that has not been locked up;" 2. "Not hold gunowners legally responsible if their guns are secured in a lock box etc..........." 3. "Require gun dealers to post a sign etc........" 4. "Allow owners to decide how and where they should store their guns".

How can you support a bill that contradicts itself? You are saying that I can decide how to store my firearms, yet if I don't lock them up I can be prosecuted. That sounds like a requirement to lock my guns away. Myself, my wife and our two children are NRA life members. They are around firearms and know how to use them. I like anyone else despise the loss of life and serious injury that firearms cause, but don't punish me or other gun owners that do not abuse our rights. Your two organizations need to join with Gunowners of America and the NRA and speak on a united front. GOA is the only organization that doesn't try to give up anything and is always opposing gun control no matter how trivial. Think back about 5 years ago when the Brady Bill surfaced. The NRA was quick to support the instant check. I don't know what your stance at the time was, but look where we are now. All firearms purchases must now go through a back ground check, not just handguns. I will be looking forward to hearing back from you soon on this. Until you come on line with 100% pro-gun support do not expect any financial support. People are always asking what gun organizations they can join. Usually I say the NRA and GOA. But the way everyone tries to bargain away things, I can only recommend GOA. If I am mistaken on something from above or if there was a misprint in the article, please advise me on this. Again, I would love to hear back from you with the real scoop.

Sincerely,


How convenient. Technically, your response is true, but it sounds more like "Clinton-speak" to me. As I understand the bill that you are co-sponsoring, you get your 'choice' of using a trigger lock, gun safe, or lockbox:

HB 1424 - DIGEST

Declares that a person is guilty of reckless endangerment if the person stores or leaves a loaded firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a child is likely to gain access, and a child obtains possession of the loaded firearm.

Does not apply if: (1) The firearm is secured in a locked box, gun safe, other secure locked storage space, or secured with a lock or any device that prevents the firearm from discharging;

(2) the child's access to the firearm is supervised by an adult;

(3) the child's access to the firearm was obtained as a result of an unlawful entry; or

(4) the child's access to the firearm was in accordance with RCW 9.41.042.

Provides that, when selling any firearm, every dealer shall offer to sell or give the purchaser a locked box, gun safe, a lock, or any device that prevents the firearm from discharging.

So, yes, I guess you could technically say that it doesn't require a trigger lock, but that's an awfully disingenuous way of getting around the fact that the law would REQUIRE at least ONE of the approved methods of storage or face being a law-breaker.

Any way that you look at it, you are talking about the government stepping in and, albeit in just a minor way to start, infringing on my constitutional right to bear arms, a right that our forefathers provided for WITHOUT ANY RESTRICTIONS OR AMENDMENTS!!. No matter if the intentions are good, any step to erode these rights is shortsighted and is simply the beginning of the trip down the slippery slope of restricting or eliminating a right we have as citizens of this free country.

I personally feel that along with this freedom and these rights that we enjoy comes certain responsibilities that each one of us, individually, must pledge to uphold. But these are responsibilities that must be considered individually by each of us as free people, NOT legislated by the Government from above. What we need is more personal responsibility and accountability and NOT more governmental intrusion. Somehow, our Republican leaders seem to forget that this is a fundamental belief of our Party.

P.S.-I find it odd that our elected officials can hide behind the belief that you can't legislate personal morality (ie-restrict abortions in any way) and yet they can turn around and believe in legislating person responsiblities as if people are incapable of making the right decisions regarding their firearms. We are capable of deciding whether or not to kill an unborn child, but we are somehow incapable of deciding how to handle/store our firearms. How convenient! And how sad!

At 12:00 PM 3/11/99 -0800, you wrote:
>Actually where I stand on the issue is that I'm the prime sponsor of the
>bill. There is nothing in the bill that requires a trigger lock. I suggest
>you read the bill...all we are talking about is safe storage of firearms.
>I'm a gun owner myself, I have a CWP and I opposed 676.However,guns should
>be safely stored were children can't get to them. That's only common
>sense....Gottlieb may not speak for you, but he speaks for many people who
>live in the District as well as the state. Thanks for writing, Ida
>Ballasiotes


As a result of my discussions with CCRKBA (Gottlieb) on trigger locks and his lobbying in Olympia, Wa. I received the forwarded e-mail.Based on their reply'I fail to see GOA"S position on this issue (GOA E-Mail Alert dated March 11 and 12) Please advise.

DH


From: XXXXXXXXX
Sent: Friday, March 12, 1999 12:03 PM
To: XXXXXXXXX
Subject: Re: HB 1424

Thank you for e-mailing us on the important matter of HB 1424.

1. HB 1424 EXPLICITLY DOES NOT MANDATE ANYTHING. It states so clearly in the bill. HB 1424 reads in both sections:

Section 1. "(6) Nothing in this section mandates how or where a firearm must be stored."

Section 2. "(4) Nothing in this section mandates how or where a firearm must be stored."

2. There are NO FELONY penalties prohibiting future gun ownership after a conviction. Conviction for reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor and does not come under the "domestic violence" prohibitions. HB 1424 reads:

Section 1. "(7) +} Reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor."

3. HB 1424 died without coming out of Committee on March 2, 1999. On Thursday, March 11, the Washington State House did pass a reciprocity carry bill. We are hopeful for success in the Senate. Gov. Locke is the key.

Following at the end are the links to:

1. HB 1424 regarding "safe storage" of firearms. This law mandates nothing and the penalty for any violation DOES NOT cost the individual his or her gun rights!

2. RCW (Revised Code of Washington) 9.41.042 regarding lawful conduct with kids and guns. These exemptions are included in HB 1424's language.

3. Washington State Legislature general website to allow you access to the most timely information on this issue.

The fact is that gun control advocates plan to introduce heinous gun confiscation measures in the next session of the Legislature.

The gun grabbers plan to combine a MANDATORY storage law with a "gun show loophole" language and probably more restricting licensing and registration schemes.

HB 1424 was crafted to take the steam away from gun banners without hurting gun owners. Gun owners can already be prosecuted for reckless endangerment. This bill would have severely limited those prosecutions by imposing standards of conduct.

Please write back or call 425-454-4911 if there are any more questions or concerns. We understand that RCW Code can be confusing but HB 1424 is a straight-forward, two page bill.

Thanks again for e-mailing us on this crucial issue.

Sincerely,

CCRKBA Legislative Staff

> 1. Link to HB 1424 text:
>
> ftp://ftp.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/1999-00/house/1400-1424/1424_01261999
>
>
> 2. Link to RCW 9.41.042, the state law about lawful conduct with kids and
> guns. Every responsible exemption seems to be there.
>
> ftp://ftp.leg.wa.gov/pub/rcw/title_09/chapter_041/rcw_9_41_042
>
> 3. Washington State Legislature general website to confirm these links as
> genuine.
>
> http://www.leg.wa.gov/wsladm/default.htm General Washington Legislative
> Website
> http://www.leg.wa.gov/wsladm/bills.htm Look under House Bills. HB
> 1424
> http://www.leg.wa.gov/wsladm/ses.htm Look under Chapter 9 of the RCW.
> Then 9.41, then 9.41.042
>


Dear Larry,

Thanks for all your work on behalf of the 2nd Amendment.

You may not remeber me but we've met a couple of times in the past. I work in the Washington State House of Representatives as a Research Analyst for the XXXXXXX (I've been on staff since 1984).

I'm not sure where you got your information on the status of HB 1424 but it is now dead! Representative Mike Carrel, the Republican Co-Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would not agree to schedule HB 1424 for a hearing prior to the March 2nd deadline for getting bills out of the policy committees.

I should explain that our House of Representatives has a 49-49 tie between the Republicans and Democrats. Each committee has a Republican and Democrat co-chairman and an equal number of Democrats and Republicans on each committee. For a bill to be scheduled for a hearing both the Democrat and Republican co-chairman must agree.

Representative Carrel deserves a good pat on the back for getting HB 1424 sent to his committee after it was approved by the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee and then not scheduling it for a hearing. Usually a bill is not sent to another poicy committee after it is passed by the first policy committee. Rep. Carrel took some flack for killing the bill but he stood up the liberal pressure groups and held firm.

I just checked with one of my colleagues who provides staff support to Rep. Carrel and he said it was not likely that the libs would try to pull the bill directly to the floor. That staff person is a good friend of mine and is a solid conservative. He has been on staff since the mid-1980s and knows the legislative process well so I would trust his judgement on this matter.

In summary, I don't think it is necessary to call out the troops at this time. Although a bill is never totally dead until the legislature adjourns, I think we are safe for now.

If you have questions feel free to call me at (360) 786-XXXX.

By the way, you are "right-on" about Alan Gottlieb. He has disappointed and/or disgusted a number of people.

Best wishes,

CB


Larry Pratt: Whitney Graves is not a gun control bill. It does not mandate trigger locks, gun safes, or any other specific form of security.

All Whitney Graves does is tie responsibility to rights, in this case, the responsibility of all of us to use good judgment in how we store our weapons.

Unlike the trigger-lock bill we soundly defeated, this bill simply says we have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to keep kids from getting our guns. If you have no kids at home and no kids visiting, and if you lock your house when you leave it, you can keep your guns just about anywhere and in any condition. The only way a kid can get your guns is to break the law by breaking and entering your house. You are off the hook. On the other hand, if you have children at home, and your kids often have kids from other homes over to play, you have a responsibility to keep the guns where the kids can't get at them.

Whitney Graves dictates NOTHING that common sense doesn't also dictate.

I support Whitney Graves. It is not gun control. It is irresponsibility control.

I sent my money this month to Alan Gottlieb, not to the NRA. And I told him why.

ER


I've looked at the documents on the GOA website and I'd like to add one item to the discussion.

Why should a minor be prevented from defending himself?

As you know, I started training my children at the earliest possible age. J. and S. have become accomplished marksmen well able to shoot in competition. At age nine, T. is preparing to shoot in her first NRA sanctioned rifle match. I consider them all capable of handling firearms safely.

In the last year, two rapes have occurred within two hundred yards of my home. I am extremely glad that *all* the members of my family have had firearms training and know where loaded firearms are available. It could well be the difference between successful self-defense and tragedy.

DA


>> > Gun Owners of America E-Mail/FAX Alert
>> > 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
>> > Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408
>> > http://www.gunowners.org
>> >
>> > March 11, 1999 (Pt 1 of 2)
>> >
>> > Dear Washington Gun Owner:
>> >
>> > The most dangerous attack is the one that comes from behind your own
>> > lines, from so-called leaders who sell out to anti-gunners.
>>
>> As a matter of fact, this is NOT true. HB 1424 and its Senate
>> counterpart, SB 5294, DO NOT impose felony penalties, DO NOT revoke
>> anyones' gun rights, and DO NOT mandate where or how you store a firearm.
>>
>> Existing law in Washington is wide open for prosecuting an irresponsible
>> gun owner for allowing any disqualified person (including minors) to
>> access your firearm. This is RCW 9A.36.050, Reckless Endangerment.
>>
>> HB 1424/5294 LIMIT PROSECUTION for anyone, whose circumstances warrant
>> it, who takes any reasonable precautions to keep guns and young kids
>> apart. It SPECIFICALLY and EXPLICITLY states "NOTHING IN THIS SECTION
>> SHALL MANDATE HOW OR WHERE A FIREARM MUST BE STORED."
>> The penalty is a gross misdemeanor, NOT A FIREARM DISQUALIFIER.
>>
>> If Bill Clinton were to mischaracterize legislation this way you know
>> what we'd call him. What does this make GOA?
>>
>> It's interesting to note that the GOA alert is being used primarily as a
>> vehicle to attack a gun-rights rival, Alan Gottlieb. Having gone after
>> the NRA for so long, I guess Mr. Pratt decided it was time to spread the
>> wealth.
>>
>> Also interesting is the reference to I-676, the gun control initiative
>> soundly defeated in Washington in November, 1997. Principal opponent of
>> I-676 was WeCARE (Washington Citizens Against Regulatory Excess), an
>> umbrella organization with membership made up of the NRA, CCRKBA,
>> Washington Arms Collectors, Gun Owners Action League of WA and the
>> Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association. Did you see GOA in
>> there? Where was GOA? Except for an internal mailing to members and
>> support for one splinter organization in the northwest corner of the
>> state, GOA was AWOL.
>>
>> I'm surprised this alert was used to segue into a plea for Vermont-Style
>> Carry (VSC), GOA's pet rock. What they forget to tell you is that NO
>> STATE, including Vermont, has passed VSC. (Vermont did it 94 years ago
>> by a Supreme Court decision--a decision that is highly unlikely to be
>> repeated anywhere today.)
>>
>> It's nice to brag about being the Second Amendment purist, and daydream
>> about a USA in which no gun control laws exist. But most of us live in
>> the real world. While we'd all like to see VSC everywhere, we do what we
>> can to make conditions better where we can, state by state.
>>
>> Where is GOA on Missouri's Proposition "B," that state's right-to-carry
>> referendum? They'd rather deny law-abiding Missourians the right to
>> defend themselves than support a "flawed" carry law. Well, I know how
>> I'd vote in Missouri on April 6th!
>>
>> I'd be happy to discuss the GOA alert with anyone who cares to call me at
>> (425) 454-4911.
>>
>> Joe Waldron
>> Executive Director, CCRKBA
>> Chairman, WeCARE
>


From: Joe Waldron To:
Date: Thursday, March 11, 1999 6:46 PM
Subject: Re: Don't Support HB 1424 - "Lock away your safety bill"

>N. wrote:
>
>> Gotlieb's support of Reasonable gun control such as "Lock Up Your
>> Safety gun control like HB 1424" is one reason I no longer can support
>> CCKKBA OR SAF. Rapists will NOT wait for me to unlock my firearms.
>> We, Gun owners in
>>
>> READ THE BILL (soemthing I think GOA did not). IT DOESN'T MANDATE
>> ANYTHING. IT NARROWS EXISTING LAW.
>>
>>
>>
>> Ga., just defeated an anti gun bill exactly like this in Georgia last
>> session. Please don't help the anti gunners pass one in Washington!
>> The NRA even opposes it! Why has Gotlieb suddenly become antigun
>> owner?!?!
>>
>> Get a life. N. If you believe everything you read on the 'net (or
>> from GOA), you need help.
>>
>>
>>
>> If HB 1424 passes, don't bother calling me any more for any
>> solicitations and I will be one less mailing you'd have to do also.
>>
>> It won't pass because it DIED March 2nd! Where has GOA been since the
>> bill was filed back in January? Probably running up and down state
>> legislatures screaming "Vermont-style carry, Vermont-style carry." If
>> you want VSC, you'd be better off lobbying your state Supreme Court
>> (that's how Vermont got it in 1903).
>>
>>
>> Joe Waldron
>> Former supporter of GOA
>>
>>
>

Gotlieb's support of Reasonable gun control such as "Lock Up Your Safety gun control like HB 1424" is one reason I no longer can support CCKKBA OR SAF. Rapists will NOT wait for me to unlock my firearms. We, Gun owners in Ga., just defeated an anti gun bill exactly like this in Georgia last session. Please don't help the anti gunners pass one in Washington! The NRA even opposes it! Why has Gotlieb suddenly become antigun owner?!?!

If HB 1424 passes, don't bother calling me any more for any solicitations and I will be one less mailing you'd have to do also. Mr. and Mrs. JH
NH

(former supporter of CCRKBA and SAF) When women are disarmed, a rapist will never hear - Stop or I'll shoot!


Dear GOA,

Below are copies of my email correspondence with CCRKBA. You might find it interesting. I found it so, and frustrating also. I have emailed my reps and Sen. and they are against the Whitney Graves Bill. (DeBolt, Alexander and Swecker).

L. to CCRKBA:

I was amazed to read in the Tacoma News Tribune, 10 Feb 99, a quote by Alan Gottlieb, that "This is a good bill that makes a lot of sense" "It does not infringe on the right to keep and bear arms."

The NRA is against the bill even. Where is Gottlieb coming from? Is he getting "Presidential" in his definition of "keep?"

It would seem to me that pro-gun organizations have consistently held that there are plenty of laws to support legal action against wrongful use and "keeping" of firearms, and yet here is Gottlieb agreeing that we need another??

Perhaps he was misquoted? Perhaps I don't see the big picture, but for the state to mandate how I keep my firearms is one more step on the way to registration and inspection. I "keep" my firearms under sufficient protection to insure that someone would have to break and enter to steal them and yet have them available for protective purposes. Where does this legislation against idiocy end?? Why make the gun owner responsible for a criminal act by another?

People with children should train their children about firearms and be held responsible for their children's behavior. Shall be mandate safe storage for matches and lighters also???

CCRKBA to L.:

All this bill does is redefine the Reckless Endangerment statute. As it is now if a child finds your gun, even if it is unloaded, and uses it you can be held responsible for all actions taken by the child. The new bill simply redefines it, and states that if a child, 16 or under, finds a LOADED firearm that is not stored in a reasonalbe fashion, the owner is responsible. A reasonable fashion means in a locked safe, locked box, locked room or closet, and so on. You are not responsible if your weapon is stolen. You are only responsible if your weapon is LOADED, and put somewhere that we all would agree is irresponsible.

This is not a new gun control bill, it is simply a redefinition of an existing statute. We have taken a lot of flack for supporting this, but the bottom line is that more draconian gun control measures were on the way, going under the guise of safe storage legislation. These included very specific mandated methods of storage. By getting HB 1424 passed we cut off the safe storage route for gun control.

We are not, nor will we ever, sell out gun owners. I hope this answered your concerns.

Drew Petty
CCRKBA

L. to CCRKBA:

> Thanks for your enlightening answer. One further question: I am single,
> have no children. If a "child" breaks into my house and takes my loaded
> weapon from my bedside table (an unlocked drawer), am I protected from
> this
> law??
>
> My other concern is that you say this bill was to forestall more draconian
> measures. From my experience in dealing with the gun control people they
> will continue to push for more and more legislation. My concern here is
> being "nibbled to death," which has been a standard ploy by these people.
> They propose something so egregious that we come up with a lesser
> counterproposal which passes, but the effect is we are helping them pass
> gun control legislation.

CCRKBA to L.:

If anyone, including a 'child' breaks into your house, you are not responsible regardless. You are only responsible if there are children in the house by your permission (as I understand the law/bill).

There was going to be a 'safe storage bill' of some sort passed this year. Gov. Locke made it a priority, and lets face it, it is really hard to argue with child safety. Something was going to pass, and we are glad it was this. The gun grabbers will always be trying to chip away at our rights, that is true. Lets hope we can stop it with this.

Drew Petty
CCRKBA


Dear Larry Pratt - Executive Director Gun Owners of America,

Perhaps you'll be able to locate my March 11 query questioning of the 'tidbits' you relayed in the first of the two part email mentioned below. I never received any reply from that email.

A minute before the reply to your email, I did send a piece of email with a like query to Joe Waldron who promptly replied with a pointer to the state web page where many of the facts, as related below by Mr. Gottlieb, are to be found. That public information relating to the status and content of the proposed laws strongly disagreed with your published information.

Based on the reply I received from Mr. Waldron, and the information I found on the web, I would like to assume that you were very misinformed and unable to read for yourself that day. I trust you will publish an appropriate explanation and response to the issues and concerns of Mr. Gottlieb as expressed below.

Independent of your response to Mr. Gottlieb for the indicated transgressions, which appear to be valid and well written, I would like to address the simple lack of timeliness in that March 11 email. By the time that email was sent those two bills had already died, perhaps they could have been revived. In sending that email you generated a lot of emotion and asked a (large) number of people to act on it quickly. Such quick actions without fact checking would have led to many people calling state Reps sounding like half cocked alarmist reactionaries - who were not only a dollar short - but indeed a week late.

I appreciate your generally informative email updates, and in fact asked others to sign up for them. I don't believe they are a place for political infighting or personal agendas however when they detract from the common cause.

Thanks for your time,
TB


Mr. Gottlieb has never made a secret of his support for some gun control measures. We refer you to the archives at their (SAF/CCRKBA) website. His attitude is give a little and they will give a little. Uh huh, swell.

WAGC-CA ceased supporting both organization more than two (2) years ago. Why others continue to support them is beyond us.

No compromise!

Regards,

Karen (Soo Li) West
Women AGAINST Gun Control, California

For more information relating to WAGC, please visit our National Headquarters home-page at: www.wagc.com


But this time the anti-gunners have a new ally in Alan Gottlieb (actually many Washington gun activists know Mr. Gottlieb has pushed Lock Up Your Safety for years, but he never did it publicly).


Hi:

I complained to 2nd Am. Fnd. about Gottlieb support for HB1424 and talked to Dave there. He denied that they were supporting any such legislation and emailed me the text of the bill. I confess that I cannot see anything in it which supports any such thing. It seems to prohibit any such requirements for storage, locks or other punitive gun control methods, and to require that suits cannot be brought against gun owners whose guns are stolen for subsequent damages caused by the perpetrators.

Correct me if I am wrong. It disturbs me when the gun supporters squabble. I have joined GOA, 2nd Amnd. Fnd, and other minor gun groups. I have been an NRA member for 52 years. I fully support Larry's no-compromise stance, as outlined in his letter to NRA and in other GOA publications. It would be foolish to advocate cooperation amongst the groups, but it would be better if we looked for areas of agreement.

HB


Hello GOA!

Apparently you're not the only ones who think that HB 1424 is bad for gun owners.

I retrieved the following from the NRA web site.

Please keep up the good work despite opposition.

Sincerely,

MM

WASHINGTON: Wed., March 17, is the deadline for anti-gunlawmakers to revive two firearms storage bills -- HB 1424 and SB5294 before the full House and Senate. While these proposals donot mandate storage, they provide redundant criminal penalties which only serve to demonize firearms in state law! Contact your State Representative (360) 786-7573 and State Senator at (360)786-7550 and urge them to oppose SB 5294 and HB 1424.


It would seem as if GOA hasn't learned. That being the case, CANCEL my membership in your organization immediately.

I'm referencing your March 11 & 12 Washington State alerts and your false accusations aimed at the Second Amendment Foundation.

We have enough problems with lies, fraud and deceit being spread around by the antis, we don't need more of it being spread around in the interests of trying to win the "Will The Real Gun Rights Organization, Please Stand Up" contest.

DO NOT send me any more literature. I assure you, my response will cost your organization more than it is worth.

Sincerely; JW


Dear N and C,

Caught your post through WGEN in Washington State. My name is AW, and for over 15 years, I have lobbied for honest gun owners in this state.

The personal attack that Mr. Gottlieb made on Larry Pratt is nothing but smoke and mirrors, I believe, to try and hide what I perceive to be his involvement with and his help in sponsoring and writing these terrible anti-gun bills.

N gave you the correct address to look up the text and history of these bills: http://search.leg.wa.gov/pub/textsearch/.

Some of you may think this is only this year's battle. This battle has been going on, for us in Washington State, since 1997. It starts with HB 1140, filed on 1-15-97, moves on to the mirror bill, SB 5407, filed on 1-24-97. These two bills were filed by Democrats and were easy to kill, because of the Repulican controlled house and senate. But here's where Mr. Gottlieb's involvement starts, we believe. SB 5418 was introduced by Republican Senator Jeanette Wood on 2-13-97. She personally told me she introduced this at Mr. Gottlieb's request, and that he continually helped her to promote this bill. At the same time, Republican Representative Ida Ballsiotes introduced HB 2078, on 2-19-97. Rep. Ballsiotes also personally told me she was talked into running this bill by Mr. Gottlieb. Mr. Gottlieb wrote to many editorial boards in this state, including the Seattle Times, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, and the Yakima and Spokane papers. In these editorials, he stated he supported these trigger lock bills. You can check this out by accessing their websites.

When these bills were appearing to fail, a slight variant, HB 2273 was introduced on 3-18-97, also by Ida Ballsiotes. It was also killed. They tried to bring back HB 2078, SB 5418, and HB 2273 in the 1998 legislative session. These were killed once again. So, on 2-2-98, HB 3102, Ida's newest attempt at legislation, written with the help of some of Gottlieb's employees, was introduced. It was also killed. Now, we come to HB 1424, and it's evil companion, SB 5294, sponsored by Senator Jeralita Costa. These are both bad bills that we have been told were written with the help of a Gottlieb employee. You will notice, if you look at the bills previously mentioned, that they have been sponsored by Reps. Costa and Ballsiotes. What an amazing coincidence.

Mr. Pratt did make one mistake, and I'm sure it was an accident, when he stated that HB 1424 included a felony penalty. He was wrong. It was SB 5017 which contained the felony penalty for failure to safely store your guns.

All the above listed bills are bad for the legitimate firearms owners of any state.

Several firearms groups in Washington State have begun a campaign that's called "NO MORE MONEY FOR THE BOYS FROM BELLEVUE." They believe that Mr. Gottlieb and his two organizations, CCRKBA, and the Second Amendment Foundation, take over 5 million dollars each year from legitimate firearms owner to defend their firearms rights. We wonder how much of this money is being spent on this anti-gun activity of supporting and promoting these anti- gun-owning, trigger-locking, safe storage legislation. These groups suggest that perhaps Mr. Gottlieb has too much money and too much time to give to these poor pieces of legislation. So perhaps you should send your money to other organizations that we believe DO support your right to firearms ownership. Mr. Gottlieb's organization is also sometimes called the Citizen's Committee to Lock Up Your Guns or Else!! So, if you believe this is a good idea, just remember the motto, "No more money for the boys from Bellevue." If it has a Bellevue, Washington address, P O box, or telephone number, don't send them any money. They don't need it.

N was right when she says Larry was right to reprimand Gottlieb for supporting an unconstitutional, anti-gun-owner bill. This bill may start out as a misdemeanor, but probably would become a felony next year, the way these anti-gunners work. And it also may not mandate storage, but how long would it take them to change that? These anti-gunner seem to have 5-year plans where they start out big, work it down to where you'll accept it, and then make it big again until it hurts you. If you look at HB 2078, 2273, and SB 5418, you will see they all talk about trigger locks, which Mr. Gottlieb want to deny is in HB 1424. If you look at these old bills and compare them to 1424, you will see that he removed the word "trigger" from in front of the word "lock" and the word "similar" from in front of the word "device." But what else can the word "lock" mean?

In our testimony against these bills, we gave one example of a 4-year old child who was killed by a bear because his neighbor could not find the key to unlock his hunting rifle to kill the bear that was attacking the boy and his mother. But this and other examples seem to make no difference to the people who are supporting this bill, including prosecutors and law enforcement officers. They just had a segment on one of the morning TV shows that showed how to make your house safer from criminals. This showed an expert installing keyed window locking devices to protect you from the criminal. But at least he had the common sense to tell you not to install these on a window you would use to escape a fire, because you would probably not be able to find the key when you needed it. The show's host agreed with him on that point. So how are you to protect yourself with a locked up firearm if you can't find the key?

I could only hope that Mr. Gottlieb would lock up all his firearms to protect his children and then we could all hope that he would find out how wrong he was when he found out he couldn't have access to his guns to protect his family.

Mr. Gottlieb has told us up here that we need to do this before the bad guys do it to us. What kind of sense does that make? Let's make a crummy law that punishes honest gun owners before the bad guys pass one that punishes us. Boy, that's a great idea.

Somebody asked if Gottlieb was a California Liberal type pro-gunner. Some people tell me he's worse than that. If you really want to know more about Mr. Alan Gottlieb, here is a link to a website. Mr. Gottlieb spent 16 hours with these people giving them an interview. A most interesting read. The Merchant of Fear . This article was due to appear in two installments, but was mysteriously stopped after the first installment was run, by the Bellevue American Journal. I wonder why.

Please continue to support Larry Pratt and Gun Owners of American in their efforts to fight for our firearm rights. They are doing the RIGHT thing. God Bless 'em. In Mr. Gottlieb's "Open Letter," he states that he has allowed representatives of GOA to speak at his Gun Rights Policy Conferences. What he fails to tell you is that at this year's conference, I was told that Larry Pratt would not be allowed to speak, even though he had been allowed in the past, because Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center had declared Mr. Pratt to be a racist. If Mr. Gottlieb, or his employees, are going to let Mr. Dees pick his friends, or who can speak at the Gun Rights Policy Conference, then Mr. Gottlieb and his organizations are once again dead wrong.

My final line will be: these are bad bills, we need all your help, and GOA's continued help, to stop this kind of bad legislation that we feel can only harm gun owners.


Posted to gun-owners-alliance by: JH

To whom it may concern: Anyone who suggests trigger locks or safes or mandatory but unpecified "Safe" storage for a firearm for any reason other than the OPTIONAL exercising of responsible conduct and security against theft or misuse is either pathetically naive, a meddling and uninformed do-gooder, an agent for Handgun Confiscation,(control) Inc., and the enemy of personal responsibility and the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Trigger locks and/or mandatory storage requirements are the moral equivalent of practicing VOODOO by shackling an inanimate object as though IT is responsible for it's misuse by human beings. Mandatory "safe" storage is insane and a trigger lock renders a loaded defensive weapon useless and at the same time makes it more dangerous than ever to its owner, which is NOT the desired or intended effect of firearms ownership.

IF Alan Gottlieb, or anyone else claiming to be pro-2nd Amendment is promoting and has promoted ANY trigger lock device or mandatory "safe" storage or statutory requirement for a sovereign citizen to be required to use or adhere to in ANY circumstance, as opposed to that citizen having the CHOICE of electing to or not to maintain the responsible storage of a firearm as he/she sees fit, and then alone bearing the responsibilty and consequence of that decision, than Alan Gottlieb, and anyone else that so promotes it, in effect, is part of the Gun Control Movement in the United States, and an ally of Handgun Control (Confiscation), Inc., and Sarah Brady, Charles Schumer, et al.

If this is true, Mr. Gottlieb is not a pro-second Amendment representative. It is not that I admire Larry Pratt, as I do not think the politics of fundamentalist religion, practiced by SHI'ITE Republicans has any business in this VERY secular issue, nor has it been effective. However, if Mr. Gottlieb is and has promoted a trigger lock or any statutory "safe" storage requirement as mandatory, removing the citizen's OPTION to use, dispose, store one's property in anyway as one sees fit, he has betrayed the 2nd amendment and it's "shall not be infringed" clause.

He might as well place locks and "safe" storage requirements on swimming pools, tricycles, bicycles, knives, machetes, bludgeons, baseball bats, screwdrivers, ashtrays and refrigerators. If Gottlieb is supporting mandatory statutory "safe" storage or trigger locks, he is just another statist similar to the NRA types that want to protect YOU from YOURSELF because HE/THEY know so much better than YOU do. (Anthony Roulette, ILA spinmeister, comes to mind) Why might that be? Who the hell is Alan Gottlieb? Who appointed him arbiter or Your and MY rights? What expertise QUALIFIES him to endorse/support or recommend any law, regulation in re: firearms carry or storage, such laws or statutes which contravene the U.S. Constitution?

I have some questions for Mr. Gottlieb:

Other than publishing, what are your credentials in the 2nd Amendment BUSINESS? What was your major in college?
In what jurisdiction and how long were you a police officer?
Have you ever shot competitively?
Do you have a CCW? How long have you carried?
Were you in the United States Military?
If ever, how do you store your loaded home defensive weapon in your car and/or home?
Why should the STATE be responsible for making me properly store a weapon?
Don't you think I'm competent to figure it out for myself?
What is your relationship with the NRA?
What do you think the 2nd Amendment means?
What part of "Shall not infringe" don't you understand??????????

Why is it that all of the so-called pro-gun and pro 2A organizations, NRA, JPFO, GOA, all others, cannot stand fast, TOGETHER AND UNITED behind the United States Constitution as it was written and intended? Is that not the common goal? None of these organizations are standing behind the 2nd Amendment as written. Why are they participating, by retreat, weakness, and fear in the destruction of our cherished rights? WHY aren't they WORKING TOGETHER?? Why are we helping them with dues payments? Get active in the defense of your own rights with your own legislators. Remember, when it really gets down to the unthinkable, who's gonna help YOU fight for YOUR rights? LaPierre, Baker, Pratt, Zelman, Gottlieb? To one extent or another these people or their organizations and others have been "helping" you keep your rights since 1968. To that fact, there are more rhetorical questions:

1. Are your rights as strong now as they were in 1960, 1950, 1940, 1930??
2. How did these folks manage to allow RIGHTS to be interpreted as PRIVILEGES?
3. Why do these organizations exist?
4. WHO do they really serve?
5. WHY don't they work together?

Mr, Gottlieb, If you want to sue me like you threatened to sue Pratt, go for it.

Disgusted extremist element of the NRA,

JH Pres., XXXXXXX

Text Of HB 1424

Note: new matter found between {+}; there is no stricken matter.

HOUSE BILL 1424

State of Washington       56th Legislature       1999 Regular Session

By Representatives Ballasiotes, O'Brien, Lovick, Dickerson, Ogden, Tokuda, Mitchell, Hankins, Miloscia, Romero, Radcliff, Lantz, Constantine, Kenney, Wood, Veloria, Conway, Cody, Santos, Kagi, Regala, Edmonds, Keiser, Scott, Poulsen and McIntire

Read first time 01/25/1999. Referred to Committee on Criminal Justice & Corrections.

AN ACT Relating to safe storage of firearms; amending RCW 9A.36.050; adding a new section to chapter 9.41 RCW; and prescribing penalties.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:

Sec. 1. RCW 9A.36.050 and 1997 c 338 s 45 are each amended to read as follows:

(1) A person is guilty of reckless endangerment when he or she recklessly engages in conduct not amounting to drive-by shooting but that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person.

(2) {+ Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person is guilty of reckless endangerment if the person stores or leaves a loaded firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a child is likely to gain access, and a child obtains possession of the loaded firearm.

(3) Subsection (2) of this section does not apply if:

(a) The firearm is secured in a locked box, gun safe, other secure locked storage space, or secured with a lock or any device that prevents the firearm from discharging;

(b) The child's access to the firearm is supervised by an adult;

(c) The child's access to the firearm was obtained as a result of an unlawful entry; or

(d) The child's access to the firearm was in accordance with RCW 9.41.042.

(4) If a death or serious injury occurs as a result of an alleged violation of subsection (2) of this section, the prosecuting attorney may decline to prosecute, even though technically sufficient evidence to prosecute exists, in situations where prosecution would serve no public purpose, would defeat the purpose of the law in question, or would result in decreased respect for the law.

(5) For the purposes of this section:

(a) "Child" means a person under the age of sixteen years; and

(b) The definitions in RCW 9.41.010 apply throughout this section.

(6) Nothing in this section mandates how or where a firearm must be stored.

(7) +} Reckless endangerment is a gross misdemeanor.

{+ NEW SECTION. +} Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 9.41 RCW to read as follows:

(1) When selling any firearm, every dealer shall offer to sell or give the purchaser a locked box, a lock, or a device that prevents the firearm from discharging.

(2) Every store, shop, or sales outlet where firearms are sold, that is registered as a dealer in firearms with the department of licensing, shall conspicuously post, in a prominent location so that all patrons may take notice, the following warning sign, to be provided by the department of licensing, in block letters at least one inch in height:

"IT IS UNLAWFUL TO STORE OR LEAVE AN UNSECURED, LOADED FIREARM WHERE A CHILD CAN AND DOES OBTAIN POSSESSION."

(3) Every person who violates this section is guilty of a class 3 civil infraction under chapter 7.80 RCW, and may be fined up to fifty dollars. However, no such fines may be levied until thirty days have expired from the time warning signs are distributed by the department of licensing.

(4) Nothing in this section mandates how or where a firearm must be stored.

--- END ---

Alan Gottlieb's Editorial From Women and Guns

The Child Safety Issue: Key to Preserving Gun Rights

by Alan M. Gottlieb

Editorial from Women and Guns June 1997

For the gun rights movement, when it comes to "child safety and guns" legislation the easiest thing to do is nothing, or oppose it because our enemies are for it. But to do so would be wrong.

Now that I got your attention, keep reading.

If you ignore the child safety issue and allow our opponents to have the moral high ground in this debate, it surely will aid and abet them in their question for their ultimate goal of banning our guns. Every time an incident where a child gets his or hand on a loaded gun and a tragedy happens, your guns and my guns become the target. The blame should be put on the irresponsible individual and not on us. By taking this position we do not allow all gun owners to be painted by the same broad brush.

Sure we could argue that the only thing that works is education. And that programs like the NRA's Eddie the Eagle are great. But is that all we could or should do?

I don't think so. And despite my more than 25 years of being on the front line defending our right to keep and bear arms against every and all attacks, some gun owners think that my supporting any form of child safety legislation with respect to firearms is a sellout. They remind me of the title of a book written by one of my favorite authors, Ross Thomas, THE FOOLS IN TOWN ARE ON OUR SIDE. If you haven't read it, you should.

We need to out-think our opponents and control the agenda and not give them issue after issue to paint us into an isolated corner with. Polls and focus groups show that over 8 our of every 10 Americans support almost any kind of legislation that would keep loaded guns out of the hands of children. That figure included 7 out of 10 gun owners. With numbers like that, it is like handing political dynamite to the gun grabbers, if we don't control the playing field and become pro-active. Here's why.

No argument for or against any piece of legislation resonates as strongly with the American public as those dealing with the accidental death of a child. For this reason, the emotionally evocative issue of child safety has become the true court of public opinion in the battle to preserve our gun rights.

The fact that the actual number of children who are killed in gun related accidents each year remains quite small is beside the point. How the gun rights movement reacts to concerns about child safety will be seen by the public as revealing our true character: are we responsible, concerned citizens who care about our community and want preserve our freedoms for our children, or are we "the irresponsible militia yahoos who wear camouflage clothes to hide their extremist views" that the gun grabbers claim we are?

In politics perception becomes reality.

When we adopt a suspicious and adversarial tone with anyone who voices concern about child safety, reasonable people too frequently put us in a latter category. If the questioner has an anti-gun agenda, then our response will just help him or her to reinforce a negatives stereotype. Our response to the child safety issue must be serious and pro-active, and should include support for the prosecution of gun owners who are criminally negligent in a manner that results in the accidental death of a child.

My approach is to support legislation that does not mandate how or where your gun must be stored. But to hold irresponsible people liable for their own actions. This is right in line with the gun rights movement's philosophy of holding individuals, not inanimate objects, responsible for harm done with firearms.

We take this approach in regard to criminal misuse of firearms. We have always supported legislation that punishes the criminal misuse of firearms by punishing the criminal and not gun owners. This approach would punish those who recklessly endanger children and not gun owners in general. So why is there any debate on this going on in the gun rights movement?

The answer can be found in a splendid little book, "THE DEATH OF COMMON SENSE" written by Phillip K. Howard, which points out that linking rational, practical solutions to problem solving is increasingly difficult in a country that has de-linked individual rights from personal responsibility.

It only makes sense to support the prosecution of those whose reckless behavior has resulted in an avoidable death or serious injury. If we leap to the defense of obviously negligent gun owners, we allow our enemies to paint all gun owners with the same broad brush.

By far the greatest benefit of supporting sensible, preferably incentive based, safety legislation is the opportunity to show that we too care about the well being of children. Most Americans favor responsible gun ownership, but have a very strong view that a person who leaves a loaded firearm unsecured on a dresser where his daughter's nine year old friend can shoot herself with it deserves to be brought to justice.

A pro-active approach to the child safety issue is more than damage control. It is about reaching out to legitimately concerned citizens with the message that gun rights are not incompatible with safety and responsibility. If we allow our enemies to hijack the issue of child safety, we put ourselves on the losing side of a battle that could decide the war.

To lose credibility on the child safety issue would be ironic because responsible gun owners are actually more concerned about child safety any one else. After all, we are the ones who are raising our children in homes with guns.

The average gun owning parent has surely spent more time thinking about child safety than the average gun grabber. I have four children myself, and education and safe storage of firearms both play an important role in my home.

Gun rights organizations, most notably the NRA, have spent millions of dollars on firearms safety education for children, because we truly do care about the issue. Why should we reinforce the myth that we aren't concerned by a knee jerk defense of clearly irresponsible behavior?

Finally, there are potentially enormous tactical advantages to be gained from supporting truly reasonable safety measures, not the least of which is the opportunity to launch an effective preemptive strike against draconian measures proposed by hard core anti gunners.

While it's true that gun accidents are not an "epidemic" as the gun grabbers claim, safe storage legislation is an epidemic, and one we would be wise to deal with pro-actively. Bills relating to the safe storage of firearms have passed in a number of places in recent years, including heavyweights California, Florida, and Texas. Some of these bills weren't bad, but others were awful.

Bill Clinton by executive order has mandated trigger locks on guns of all federal law enforcement officers. He has told Congress this sets an example to mandate it for all Americans.

The city of Chicago recently passed a law mandating the use of trigger lock, period. It doesn't matter that you have no children in your home, keep your gun unloaded, or that you keep your firearm in a locked box or drawer. All handguns in the city of Chicago are supposed to be registered. The police can now go house to house and arrest owners who don't have mandatory trigger locks on their guns and confiscate their firearms. This is a telling example of what can happen when gun owners refuse to work for reasonable safe storage legislation we can live with.

By contrast, a safe storage bill that I am currently supporting in Washington State does not mandate how a gun must be stored and applies only to a loaded gun left where children age 15 or younger can gain unsupervised access to it, and creates exemptions from prosecution for gun owners who have stored their firearms responsibly.

In addition to allowing a gun owner the freedom to choose the method of storage that best suits his or her needs for self defense, the bill contains additional exemptions if the child had permission to pick up the gun or the "child" was the neighborhood delinquent who stole the gun. also exempted is possession of a loaded gun by a child for his or her self defense or for legitimate uses like hunting. Even the penalty for irresponsible gun owners is a relatively minor misdemeanor. A gun owner can be grossly negligent in a way that results in the death of a child and not even lose his gun rights under this bill. Also, the bill doesn't make negligent gun storage a new prosecutable crime. Careless gun owners can already be prosecuted under the state's reckless endangerment and second degree manslaughter statutes.

The main argument made by pro gun rights activists is opposition to this legislation, despite the fact that it does not mandate how a firearm must be stored and exempts gun owners from prosecution if loaded firearms are stored safely from children, is the "slippery slope" argument: "This is just a first step..." This is the same argument abortion rights extremists use to justify partial birth abortions. Any restriction whatsoever is treated as the first step toward total abolition. What they overlook, of course, is that laws that defend the indefensible are themselves a target for the very people they most oppose.

Gun owner support for reasonable legislation like this bill forces gun grabber organizations to go along with legislation which they privately believe is far too non-restrictive or be revealed in public as the irrational extremists that they really are. Handgun Control, Inc. refused to support the Washington State safe storage bill at first because they wanted a far more restrictive law and were concerned that this approach would undermine stronger proposed mandated legislation in other states.

A broad based coalition and media support for the bill in its current non mandatory storage form forced Handgun Control Inc. to also get behind it. Let's take this opportunity to build a majority coalition in favor of responsible gun ownership in America. If we ignore and belittle citizens' concerns about child safety, we give the gun grabbers an opportunity to build a majority "safety" coalition to attack our rights.

If you don't agree with me, then point your loaded gun at your foot and pull the trigger.

About the Author: Alan M. Gottlieb is founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the father of four.

Andy Barniskis Rebuts Gottlieb's Editorial

Safe Storage Laws: A First Step To Surrendering Our Gun Rights

by Andy Barniskis

In the last issue, noted gun-rights authority Alan Gottlieb argued that Second Amendment advocates should support so-called "safe storage" legislation, that would mandate that gun owners store their firearms in such a way as to keep them out of the hands of children, or others who would be likely to mishandle them. Mr. Gottlieb argues that such laws can be crafted in a reasonable way that would pose no threat to anyone who secures his guns in even the most elementary, common sense way, as the vast majority of us do already. He argues further that mandatory safe storage laws are an issue for which we must bend to public perceptions to preserve our image, because child safety is so emotionally evocative that it defines the "true court of public opinion" in the battle to preserve our gun rights.

With due respect to Mr. Gottlieb's experience in the field of gun rights, I think he is wrong. I disagree with him that supporting mandatory safe storage laws is a good idea either tactically or philosophically.

I will begin my arguments by pointing to an analogous issue that happens to be current here in Pennsylvania -- mandatory seat belt laws for motorists. Under current law, seat belt use in Pennsylvania is mandatory, but motorists cannot be stopped or cited for failure to use their seat belts unless they are stopped for, and subsequently convicted of another traffic violation. This was introduced as "reasonable" legislation some years ago, with supporters making arguments almost identical to Mr. Gottlieb's arguments for "reasonable" safe storage laws, namely, that only in the case of conviction of some greater violation would citizens be subject to search or penalty. So, what was to fear? Only in the case of someone guilty of driving in an unsafe manner, could they be punished for compounding that hazard by not wearing their seat belts.

Over the years the mandatory seat belt law has been credited with increasing seat belt use in Pennsylvania to a peak of about 71 percent in 1995. While it may be questioned how much of that increase should be credited to the law, and how much to education, the increase in seat belt use was certainly a desirable outcome -- just as an increase in the safe storage of firearms would be.

However, in 1996, officially reported seat belt use inexplicably reversed its trend, and declined to about 65 percent. As might be expected, the immediate response to even this small reversal was a call to "put some teeth" into the mandatory seat belt law. Rep. Bob Godshall [R. 53rd District] has introduced legislation that would make failure to use your seat belt a violation for which you could be stopped and cited, in the absence of any other violation.

People in other states that already have such laws report police standing in the middle of multi-lane highways or at toll booths, slowing traffic while inspecting each car for seat belt use. It has been charged that suspicion of failing to use seat belts has been used as an excuse for police to stop "suspicious" motorists without reasonable cause, and to otherwise go on "fishing trips" among the motoring public.

Therein lies the danger of "reasonable" legislation. While Mr. Gottlieb dismisses the "slippery slope" argument when applied to mandatory firearms storage laws, the progress of mandatory seat belt laws demonstrates the slippery slope principle to perfection.

What precisely was the criterion for "success" of the "reasonable" seat belt law? While unspoken, it was that seat belt use should increase continuously until, ultimately, it reached 100 percent -- and that in the future it never, ever, should decline. Even though seat belt use is now much higher than in all but one former year, that alone is not regarded as good enough -- a decline for even one year has triggered calls for more stringent legislation, since obviously the current law is a "failure."

What would be the criteria for success of a mandatory safe firearms storage law? That too is unspoken, but it would be that accidental firearms deaths among children should decline -- from this year forward and forevermore, until there were no deaths among children at all. Failing in that for even one year, we can be sure that there would be an immediate call by someone of Rep. Godshall's spirit to "put some teeth" in our formerly "reasonable" law. As in the case of police stopping traffic to inspect for seat belt use, we should expect that police would be empowered to arrest anyone violating safe storage criteria, as long as the violation was detected by any means not violating reasonable search and seizure standards -- for example, police peering in an open window or door after coming to your house for some other, unrelated reason. And, it is not unreasonable to expect that violation of safe storage criteria for a single gun would provide justification for confiscation of every gun in the house.

There also is another reason to give serious thought to what the criteria for success of a safe storage law would be. Mr. Stephen L. Christopoulos, a public health researcher at Easton Hospital, reports that Lehigh and Northampton Counties -- two suburban Pennsylvania counties with a combined population greater than three states of the U.S. -- had no accidental firearms deaths among children in the five year period between 1990 and 1995, and no accidental firearms deaths at all for two of those five years. We are led to ask, how much could legislation improve that safety record? But, when the next death did occur, be it two, five, or twenty years in the future, we can be sure it would be portrayed by some as an abject failure of the existing law, which "failed to go far enough."

This raises another question that is somewhat politically incorrect to mention, which is, exactly where are accidental firearms deaths among children the greatest problem? And, if accidental firearms deaths are not uniformly distributed through all geographic and demographic areas of society, is it appropriate to pass blanket legislation that seeks to solve a problem that doesn't exist through most of our state?

The fact is, that the greatest number of accidental firearms deaths and injuries among children occur in urban and inner-city areas. Would it make sense to impose legislation directed at a ghetto problem, on the residents of our suburban and rural counties? Certainly not!

Nor should it seem I am implying that safe storage laws would make sense anywhere. Many dedicated city dwellers I have known have abandoned Philadelphia in the face of overwhelming crime. One couple gave up on their stylish neighborhood after someone was shot and killed at their doorstep, in broad daylight. Another couple bailed out after their house was burglarized six times in one year; the last time while they were at home in bed. In the latter case, the homeowner, who fortunately didn't have to confront the burglar, reported that he learned that an unloaded gun, even with ammunition in close proximity, could not be brought into action quickly enough after waking up from a sound sleep in the middle of the night.

Keep in mind that these were so-called "gentrified" neighborhoods. If people need to have a viable means of self- defense immediately at hand in upscale urban neighborhoods, imagine the situation for the unfortunate residents of the ghettos, which amount to virtual combat zones. Even in Vietnam, where every soldier had extensive training and familiarity with firearms, a high number of casualties resulted from firearms accidents; from that it may be concluded that a higher than average rate of firearms accidents does not result from inherently irresponsible behavior, but comes as a natural byproduct of living under combat conditions. The answer for accidental firearms deaths in urban areas is not to force the beleaguered, honest residents to lock up their means of self- defense, but for authorities to meet their responsibility to provide real protection for them!

Mr. Gottlieb argues that the intelligent approach is for gun owners to support legislation that does not mandate how or where your gun must be stored, but instead holds irresponsible people liable for their own actions. The problem is that law, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and if the law is vague or silent about the precise definition of "safe" storage, the courts will soon supply that definition. Would you like "safe storage" to be defined by legal precedent, by a jury in liberal Bucks or Montgomery Counties? Might it not be decided that a precocious child who could find a hidden key, and deduce that it fit his parents' gun safe, was proof that even a $2000 vault does not constitute "safe" storage?

Perhaps the weakest of Mr. Gottlieb's arguments for supporting safe storage laws is that the "true court of public opinion" already has decided that the welfare of children is placed at severe risk by the mere presence of firearms. As can be proven by countless examples such as that of Lehigh and Montgomery Counties, and the vast majority of areas across our state and nation, the public's opinion is plain wrong, and to accede to it is to accede to a lie. To accede to a lie for the sake of appeasing public opinion is immoral, and would be as shameful in principle as acceding to the once popular but now discredited belief that some races were less human than others.

If it were tactically advantageous to cave in to the public perception that firearms are a significant danger to our children, why not gain even more advantage by surrendering to the widespread public perception that "assault rifles," "Saturday Night Specials," "semiautomatics," and countless other media- created myths, all pose a severe and immediate threat to society? It may be an uphill battle, but it always will be better to combat a Big Lie with a Big Truth, for there never will be an end of Big Lies calling for our surrender.

I recently encountered a column by Washington columnist Samuel Francis, addressing the tactic of proposing legislation "for the sake of the children." Francis observes, ". . .the tactic of starting out with piecemeal, incremental restrictions that 'just don't go far enough' is common. . .The point of starting small with regulatory restrictions that apply to only part of the population it to legitimatize the problem and its solution by state action. Once that is granted it's like being a little bit pregnant, and state power can be easily expanded to include 'solutions' that really do go 'far enough.'"

Mr. Gottlieb concluded his article, "If you don't agree with me, then point your loaded gun at your foot and pull the trigger." I would counter that anyone who does agree with him is pointing a loaded gun at our very heart -- while believing our enemies won't pull the trigger for us.

Andy Barniskis chairs the Legislative Committee of the Bucks County Sportsmen's Coalition.

An Open Letter to Alan Gottlieb

Dear Alan:

This responds to your open letter to me.

I agree with you that Second Amendment proponents should avoid personal attacks against one another. However, we also have a responsibility to vigorously fight proposals which would severely damage the right to keep and bear arms.

Tragically, when those anti-gun proposals bear the imprimatur of our Second Amendment friends, it confuses pro-gun grass roots advocates. These advocates want an explanation, and in fact, they deserve to have the confusion cleared.

In one respect, I was in error in my letter urging Washington state activists to oppose H.B. 1424. The bill does not provide for a felony. It explicitly provides that a person is guilty of the crime of reckless endangerment if he "stores or leaves a loaded firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a child under the age of 16 is likely to gain access, and the child obtains possession of the loaded firearm." Gun dealers are explicitly required to post signs to this effect.

The penalties for violating the requirements of H.B. 1424 are imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Let's assume that you or your wife keeps a loaded handgun in the night stand by your bed for self-defense. (Keeping an unloaded firearm in your night stand would not make a lot of sense.) Let's further assume that your 15 year old child sneaks into your bedroom and removes the handgun, displaying it, but hurting no one.

Under these circumstances, you would be subject to up to one year in prison if a trier of fact, after the fact, determined that you "reasonably should" have known that the child was likely to gain access.

The act provides that you could not have been prosecuted under H.B. 1424 if the firearm was "secured in a locked box, gun safe, other secure locked storage space, or secured with a lock that prevents the firearm from discharging." Unfortunately, when a burglar bursts into your bedroom, he will probably not wait for you to retrieve your gun from your gun safe.

Your assertions to the contrary that the act is not intended to mandate how or where a firearm must be stored, unhappily, cannot negate the bill's explicit mandates or standards of criminal liability. If a court finds that you "reasonably should know" that a child could gain access-- and the child did gain access-- you can be sent to prison for up to one year.

Gun Owners of America has consistently been at the forefront of alerting gun owners to the danger of holding them criminally liable for "reasonably should know"-type negligent standards. We have consistently been ridiculed for our concern-- frequently by our pro-gun friends. Tragically, the bevy of negligence suits now threatening to destroy American gun ownership has belatedly convinced all but the most obtuse of the danger of this negligence standard.

From time to time, pro-gunners have been asked to embrace virulently anti-gun court decisions in exchange for limiting further erosion. This is almost always a mistake. Gun owners are not guilty of "reckless endangerment" because they keep firearms to defend themselves. For us to ever accept the arguments of anti-gun zealots to the contrary would spell the death of the Second Amendment.

Alan, we disagree on how to fight the common enemy. It is evident from your editorial in Women and Guns that you believe that gun owners can gain tactical advantage by making preemptive concessions. We disagree. The history of the last 60 years in the defense of the right to keep and bear arms has been a record of concessions made to the gun grabbers-- even though such compromises violated the Constitution.

This history of concession and compromise has been one of steady erosion of our liberty. Compromise, thus, fails on constitutional as well as pragmatic grounds.

Alan, I have no desire to wage a personal war of words against you. I recognize the causes and issues on which I have enjoyed your support, and I am grateful. But as much as I value your friendship, I must say that, when the two come in conflict, I value the Constitution more.

Sincerely,
Larry Pratt

P.S. I am putting the entire documentation of our debate on our web page at: http://www.gunowners.org/swadocs.htm
Included are my original letter to Washington state activists, your letter to me, this letter, H.B. 1424, your article in Women and Guns and other related documents.