Certainly better than any of the Western Washington Dems...
Friday, August 27, 2004
Reichert opposes assault weapons ban
Sheriff's support for letting law expire shocks activists
By CHRIS McGANN
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER CAPITOL CORRESPONDENT
Dave Reichert, King County sheriff and Republican congressional candidate, recently told a group of Second Amendment advocates that he supports letting the federal ban on assault weapons expire.
His position shocked community activists with whom he had worked closely in the past to establish and promote gun-violence prevention programs. It is also at odds with a wide segment of law enforcement officials, including Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.
But Reichert said yesterday his statement should not come as a surprise to anyone.
"I've never changed my position," Reichert said. "My whole point has always been holding gun owners responsible and accountable and always focusing on those people who were committing crimes with guns. ... I've never felt that the banning of certain weapons has really done anything at all."
But that clear stance has not been so obvious to some who have, up to now, regarded Reichert as a steadfast ally.
"I'm stunned," said Pamela Eakes, founder of Mothers Against Violence in America. "He has been so firm on this issue."
Eakes said she was happy when Reichert told her he was going to run for Congress because she thought she could count on him to uphold the assault-weapons ban based on his past support of it.
"Dave has spoken in support of the assault-weapons ban," Eakes said. "He has been an advocate and a friend of those who care about saving lives and keeping children away from guns."
She said the only reservation she'd ever heard Reichert express about the law was that it was not strong enough.
In 1999, Reichert knocked heads with the King County Council because he wanted to destroy seized semiautomatic assault weapons, rifles and shotguns to prevent them from returning to the streets. The council said a state law prohibited them from amending a county law that required his department to sell or trade surplus and seized rifles and shotguns as well as "handguns of potential value" to licensed dealers.
Yesterday, Reichert said the legislation that bans sales of semiautomatic assault weapons was ineffective.
The federal assault-weapons law was passed in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. It prohibits the manufacture, sale and importation of certain military-style, semiautomatic weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The law will expire next month unless Congress and President Bush renew it.
The bedrock of Reichert's campaign has been the reputation he earned as the man who brought the Green River Killer to justice. His stance on specific issues, including the weapons ban, largely mirrored those of the Bush administration.
In the case of the assault-weapons ban, Bush has been accused of changing course.
In an Op-Ed article that ran this week in The Christian Science Monitor, Kerlikowske implored Bush to follow through on his 1999 campaign promise to support the reauthorization of the ban.
"The ban was passed for very practical reasons," Kerlikowske wrote. "Prior to 1994, criminals were armed with enough firepower to outgun the police, making them nearly impossible to subdue, and allowing them to wreak terrible havoc in public places. The ban kept military-style assault weapons out of the hands of criminals. Since the passage of the ban, federal crime statistics show a dramatic 66-percent drop in the incidence of assault weapons traced to crimes. Given that, I can't think of a rational reason not to renew this law."
Reichert said there are statistics that can be used to support both sides of the debate. And there's at least one other distinction between the two top cops that could have something to do with their differing points of view, Reichert said.
"He's an appointed chief, and I'm an elected sheriff," Reichert said.
He said the confusion is the result of his political opponents trying to "paint" him in a certain light. "This isn't the only issue that has been twisted."
But Reichert admits his support of allowing the weapons ban to sunset is based on only part of the legislation -- the part that bans particular semiautomatic weapons.
He said high-capacity magazines are the real problem for law enforcement. "I don't like the idea of someone having a magazine that can carry 40 rounds and point it at me, as a police officer."
Restricting the magazine capacity to 10 rounds of ammunition gives his men a fighting chance, he said.
"At least (a criminal) has got to reload somehow, which gives us some time. If you've got a guy there with a semiautomatic weapon and he's got a banana clip and he's got 80 rounds, he can shoot at us forever and keep us pinned down."
The assault-weapons ban outlaws such clips, but because the prohibition is linked to the ban to the firearms themselves, the whole bill should be abolished, Reichert said.
And once both parts of the bill are scrapped?
"I wouldn't propose another bill." Reichert said. "It's not my purpose to go back to Congress and introduce any other legislation that would limit gun ownership or limit magazine capacity. I'm going back to Congress because I want to focus on homeland security. I want to focus on jobs and the economy. I want to focus on health care and traffic."
Allan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment foundation, said he appreciated the reassurances Reichert offered his and other gun rights groups in attendance at the fund-raiser at Wade's Gun Range in Bellevue on Aug. 20.
"He definitely has the right instincts," Gottlieb said of Reichert. "He hasn't done anything to lead me to believe we couldn't count on him."
P-I reporter Chris McGann can be reached at 360-943-3990 or email@example.com
Thanks Phil, sorry about the dupe topic.
Yeah because we don't allow dupe topics in here. We never talk about: Beer, WAC, going shooting.