EXCLUSIVE – Following a string of freeway shootings in the Seattle area along Interstates 5 and 90 and at least one state highway, the head of one of the nation’s most active gun rights organizations, coincidentally based in the area, said the rash of gun-related crimes underscores the failure of increasingly restrictive Evergreen State gun control laws.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, described what he believes are several factors which may be at work. Speaking exclusively to Ammoland News, he pointed to the state’s reduced number of law enforcement officers in the field, a significant increase in local gang and drug-related activity, and a noticeable leniency by the courts toward criminal suspects in Western Washington.
“You can’t blame it on the lack of gun laws,” he observed, “because the state has adopted lots of gun laws in recent years, proving that none of them work.”
In 2014, Washington voters passed Initiative 594, which mandated background checks on virtually all gun transfers, with some exceptions for family members. It passed when Seattle-area wealthy elitists bankrolled the initiative campaign, outspending opponents—and a competing initiative—more than 10 to 1.
Four years later, big-money backers mounted another multi-million-dollar campaign to pass Initiative 1639, which restricted sales of semi-auto rifles to adults over age 21, required proof of gun safety training and registration. Statewide, homicides have gone up.
In the interim, in 2015, the City of Seattle adopted a gun and ammunition tax to raise money for anti-violence efforts. Seattle homicides have tripled since the tax was adopted.
And in Olympia, the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed legislation banning so-called “large-capacity magazines” and “assault weapons.” They extended the waiting period to 10 days on all gun purchases. This year, lawmakers are considering bills requiring permits-to-purchase which include a training mandate and one-gun-per-month restrictions.
The Washington State Patrol has been investigating the shootings, and that is continuing. The agency is asking for public help in identifying the culprit(s) and prosecuting them. In once incident, a trooper followed a suspect car through Tacoma and back on I-5. That car was later abandoned and had been reported stolen, but a gun which had been reportedly thrown from the vehicle was recovered by police.
According to KOMO News, the local ABC affiliate in Seattle, one recent incident left a passenger injured earlier in the week. That shooting occurred on southbound I-5 near the junction with State Route 520. A bullet penetrated the driver’s side window, and the passenger “sustained minor injuries,” the station reported. Those injuries were caused by shattered glass.
Another recent incident along I-90, which intersects with I-5 near downtown Seattle, involved a bullet punching a hole in the tailgate of a pickup truck. No suspects have been identified in these incidents.
Gottlieb has watched this unfold and he is already anticipating more gun control hysteria.
“I find this kind of violence on our highways deplorable,” he said.
But guns and law-abiding gun owners are not at fault and should not be penalized, he added.
Gottlieb, 30 years ago, championed two anti-crime initiatives—Three Strikes and Hard Time for Armed Crime—which were popular with nearly everyone, except for liberals who instead wanted to blame guns rather than criminals. In the years since both measures have been gradually weakened, and the veteran gun rights advocate suggested incidents like the freeway shootings are a result.
“No doubt,” he said, “over time (lawmakers) have weakened the Three Strikes and Hard Time laws. When you don’t put the resources to work, to keep criminals off the street, it endangers all of us.”
Gottlieb suggested these crimes are resulting in an increased number of people buying firearms, and applying for concealed pistol licenses. New data Ammoland News obtained from the state Department of Licensing shows January ended with almost 693,000 active CPLs, a remarkably high number in a state considered to be politically “blue” with increasingly restrictive gun control laws. The number of CPLs has hovered up and down in the 692,000 – 698,000 realm for several months.
“All of this certainly explains why people have rushed to buy guns and get concealed carry licenses,” Gottlieb said. “They have realized they can’t rely on government to do it for you.”
The random freeway shootings have occurred primarily along the I-5 corridor between the Seattle and Tacoma areas; two communities in neighboring counties long controlled by Democrat politics. According to the Seattle Times, there have been at least seven freeway shootings so far this year.
Seattle’s KIRO 7 News, the local CBS affiliate, is reporting that the State Patrol is investigating nine confirmed shootings so far this year, and there are four other reported shooting which have not been substantiated. As a result, state troopers have been conducting “emphasis patrols.” These could yield far more results than pushing more gun control schemes.
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