As the National Rifle Association reminded Americans in the 1980s, guns don't kill people, people kill people (it's the intersection of people and guns that makes bloodletting a wee easier). In the American West, the perennial debate over gun safety throws into relief the urban-rural divide. The poles extend from nanny-state lefties to Second Amendment grenade fiends and never, it seems, the twain shall meet.
Against a curtain of recrimination and clatter, meaningful approaches seem elusive even after a string of high-profile gun tragedies involving kids.
"Gun-safety advocates say the accidental shootings of three children in the past three weeks underscore the need for tougher firearms laws in Washington," the Seattle Times' Jennifer Sullivan writes. "But gun-rights supporters say no law can prevent the mistakes that led to the shootings that have killed two children and left an 8-year-old girl with serious injuries."
Safety advocates demand trigger locks or criminal penalties for parents who provide easy access to loaded weapons to children under 12. Gun advocates are as incredulous as they are unyielding. In addition, could these recent deaths have been anamolous and not necessarily signal a broader pattern? Is it relevant? The Herald's Rikki King writes, "The accidental shootings of three Western Washington children so far this year represent a statistical anomaly rather than a sudden burst of gun violence, according to legal experts and state data."
Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is receiving posthumous vindication. Stevens, who was convicted in 2008 on seven counts of lying on his financial disclosure forms, had his conviction overturned once it was determined that the prosecution had withheld evidence. A 514-page report released this morning documents the nature and magnitude of the prosecution team's misconduct (although no one on the team is facing criminal charges.)
The Anchorage Daily News' Sean Cockerham and Richard Mauer write, "Much of the Department of Justice misconduct revolves around the handling of former Veco chief Allen as a key government witness. He testified against Stevens and the state legislators, but prosecutors withheld crucial information from defense lawyers about sexual abuse allegations against Allen that, if revealed to jurors, could have affected his credibility."
Beware the mass of signature gatherers. 'Tis the season for political volunteers and, in the case of Referendum 74 to repeal marriage equality, there won't be any Eyman-esque paid-signature workers. Could a volunteer-only MO hinder the repeal campaign?
"'Petitions for Referendum 74 were printed Wednesday and will be distributed around the state starting today,' said Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington and a leader in the coalition pushing for the law's repeal," the Herald's Jerry Cornfield writes. "Preserve Marriage Washington, which filed Rerferendum 74, must turn in at least 120,577 valid signatures of registered voters by June 6 to get on the November ballot. If they do, the law will be put on hold until the outcome of the election is known."
Did your invite to Wednesday's state dinner at the White House get lost in the mail? Perhaps if you were a party bundler (instead of just a bundle of fun) it would have arrived on time. A handful of Northwesterners including John Frank, vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, and Michael Parham, associate general counsel at RealNetworks, understand the difference (not that they're not fun, mind you.)
"Several of President Obama’s prominent Seattle-area donors and political fundraisers are on the guest list at Wednesday night’s White House State Dinner in honor of Great Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron," the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes. "The dinner’s guest list includes 41 of Obama’s so-called 'bundlers' from around the United States, invited to hobnob with Washington, D.C.’s political and media elite. 'Bundlers' are those who have not only given to the President’s reelection campaign, but collected donations from their friends and associates."
Lastly, nothing kindles passion among Westerners more than the debate over public lands (okay, maybe the debate over guns). This year's presidential election brings the issue into focus. As High Country News' William Meadows writes, "So why do we have these millions of acres of public lands? If you think the answer fits into a cookie-cutter narrative of federal vs. state interests, Republicans vs. Democrats, or even East vs. West, be prepared for a surprise. The real story involves a lot of Republicans, a lot of Democrats, a lot of Westerners and a long history of congressional support for protecting our nation's last wild places."
Anchorage Daily News, "Stevens trial report details misconduct by prosecution team"
Seattlepi.com, "Big local Obama donors at White House dinner"
High Country News, "Some politicians turn public lands into a political football"