The shooting took place on Hart St. in the Bushwick section at about 3 p.m. as cops were responding to a harassment call.
Published on Oct 5, 2013
Misstep in gun bill could defeat the effort
One of the major gun-control efforts in Olympia this session calls for the sheriff to inspect the homes of assault-weapon owners. The bill’s backers say that was a mistake.
Forget police drones flying over your house. How about police coming inside, once a year, to have a look around?
As Orwellian as that sounds, it isn’t hypothetical. The notion of police home inspections was introduced in a bill last week in Olympia.
That it’s part of one of the major gun-control efforts pains me. It seemed in recent weeks lawmakers might be headed toward some common-sense regulation of gun sales. But then last week they went too far. By mistake, they claim. But still too far.
“They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away. But then you see this, and you have to wonder.”
That’s no gun-rights absolutist talking, but Lance Palmer, a Seattle trial lawyer and self-described liberal who brought the troubling Senate Bill 5737 to my attention. It’s the long-awaited assault-weapons ban, introduced last week by three Seattle Democrats.
Responding to the Newtown school massacre, the bill would ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons that use detachable ammunition magazines. Clips that contain more than 10 rounds would be illegal.
But then, with respect to the thousands of weapons like that already owned by Washington residents, the bill says this:
“In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”
In other words, come into homes without a warrant to poke around. Failure to comply could get you up to a year in jail.
“I’m a liberal Democrat — I’ve voted for only one Republican in my life,” Palmer told me. “But now I understand why my right-wing opponents worry about having to fight a government takeover.”
He added: “It’s exactly this sort of thing that drives people into the arms of the NRA.”
I have been blasting the NRA for its paranoia in the gun-control debate. But Palmer is right — you can’t fully blame them, when cops going door-to-door shows up in legislation.
I spoke to two of the sponsors. One, Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, a lawyer who typically is hyper-attuned to civil-liberties issues, said he did not know the bill authorized police searches because he had not read it closely before signing on.
“I made a mistake,” Kline said. “I frankly should have vetted this more closely.”
That lawmakers sponsor bills they haven’t read is common. Still, it’s disappointing on one of this political magnitude. Not counting a long table, it’s only an eight-page bill.
The prime sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, also condemned the search provision in his own bill, after I asked him about it. He said Palmer is right that it’s probably unconstitutional.
“I have to admit that shouldn’t be in there,” Murray said.
He said he came to realize that an assault-weapons ban has little chance of passing this year anyway. So he put in this bill more as “a general statement, as a guiding light of where we need to go.” Without sweating all the details.
Later, a Senate Democratic spokesman blamed unnamed staff and said a new bill will be introduced.
Murray had alluded at a gun-control rally in January that progress on guns could take years.
“We will only win if we reach out and continue to change the hearts and minds of Washingtonians,” Murray said. “We can attack them, or start a dialogue.”
Good plan, very bad start. What’s worse, the case for the perfectly reasonable gun-control bills in Olympia just got tougher.
Cops scramble for bullets while DHS stockpiles 1.2 billion rounds
Will the U.S. soon face a critical situation in which the federal government– primarily the Department of Homeland Security – possesses an ammunition surplus while local and state authorities face ammunition shortages and backlogs in purchasing more rounds?
Current trends could find the federal government with a strong ammunition advantage over local police and sheriff departments.
Range Master Sgt. Ted Glisson told WSAV-TV in Savannah, “What we’ve incorporated is we’re doing more dry firing practice and this basically gets some people better suited to do what they need to when they come out here on the range.”
Dry firing is pulling the trigger but not firing a bullet.
Glisson said that while his unit currently had enough ammunition, he was concerned because “one of our suppliers was running short on what they had because there’s a mass – everybody’s trying to get a lot of ammunition and things like that.”
Similar reports are cropping up nationwide amid fears of a federal clampdown as the Obama administration continues to push gun legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Brownells, the largest supplier of firearm accessories in the world, reported it had sold several years’ worth of ammunition in just a matter of hours.
The company released a statement apologizing for the delay in fulfilling orders, explaining the it had experienced “unprecedented” demand for AR-15 ammunition magazines since earlier in the week.
CNS News reported police departments nationwide are experiencing ammunition shortages, referring to the online law enforcement website, PoliceOne.com
Sgt. Chris Forrester of the Greer Police Department in South Carolina told local TV-news channel WSPA: “It’s never easy to get ammo, but since the tragedy in Connecticut, it’s become even more difficult.”
Forrester explained the problem ordering ammunition began about a month ago.
“You’ll call and they say ‘sorry we’re out,’ or ‘it’s on back order,’” he said.
Chief Terry Sult of the Sandy Springs Police Department said: “It affects our ability to be prepared. It affects the potential safety of the officers, because they’re not as proficient as they should be.”
While local authorities scramble to fulfill future ammunition needs by turning to the same suppliers from which private gun owners purchase their rounds, the Department of Homeland Security reportedly maintains a large stock of ammunition.
Last March, DHS reportedly ordered 450 million rounds of .40 caliber ammunition, including hollow point bullets, from defense contractor ATK to be delivered over five years.
Hollow-point tip bullets are rarely used in training exercises. They are among the deadliest bullets, with the ability to pass through barriers and expand for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet warping.
In April, Business Insider reported on an additional DHS request for 750 million more rounds for a total of at least 1.2 billion bullets. The 750 million is more than 10 times what U.S. troops used in a full year of Iraqi combat.
It was not immediately clear how many bullets were delivered to DHS.
In 2009, manufacturer Winchester posted an award to its site affirming it will deliver 200 million rounds to DHS over five years, serving as yet another order on top of others that may have already been partially fulfilled, as Business Insider noted.
DHS runs a large weapons training program at its Firearms Division replete with indoor and outdoor firing ranges, ammunition and weapons storage. Courses include a rifle-training program, precision rifle observer training program, reactive shooting instructor training program, submachine gun instructor training program and a survival shooting training program.
“That doesn’t make the most recent batch of 200,000 rounds seem out of line, but those billion or so rounds, seem like they could be better accounted [for],” commented Robert Johnson at Business Insider earlier this month.
With additional research by Joshua Klein