October 15, 2009
Senate vote on Thune Amendment highlights lack of accountability from Senators Murray and Cantwell

Eleven weeks ago our Senators voted on the Thune Amendment, and they apparently chose party ideology over the interests and expressed desires of their constituents, as well as long-standing state law.

In 1961 Washington became the original "shall-issue" state requiring law enforcement personnel to issue a concealed carry of a weapon (CCW) permit to any qualified citizen (RCW 9.41.070) on demand. In the forty-eight years since, thirty-eight (38) other states have similarly followed, and with significantly greater decreases in violent crimes than the remaining states.

In 2004, Washington passed another law explicitly granting CCW permit reciprocity between itself and other states having similar provisions (RCW 9.41.073).

Neither law has ever been challenged, nor has a referendum to repeal either law ever been on a ballot.

Washingtonians working across state lines in cities such as Portland or Lewiston would be well-served by having their CCW's be honored in other states (not all states have reciprocity with Washington--Oregon being the most proximate, hence the need for this amendment).

If the senators were thinking that national interests came before those of their state constituents, a recent national poll by Zogby/O'Leary doesn't bear that out. It found that 83% of Americans (86% of Independent voters, 80% of Democratic voters, 83% of voters under 30) supported concealed-carry laws.

So the question is: whose desires were the senators representing when they voted?

Immediately after the vote both senators' Seattle offices were contacted for a position statement on why they had voted as they did.

For 5 weeks following the vote, I regularly emailed and called both senators' offices requesting a position statement on their votes, and received no response.

I finally took this to Ed White from King 5 News, who contacted Senator Murray's office.

Two days later, I had my response: the senior senator opposed the amendment because there are no federally mandated standards for CCW testing. Her argument being that permit holders of states with lower requirements would pose a hazard to Washingtonians.

The proof of this argument can be found by analogy, as drivers' licenses already have national reciprocity. One only need look as far as the scores of burned out vehicles lining the I-5 corridor, where Oregon drivers (who are limited to 65mph in their own state) have lost control at 70mph once they crossed over into Vancouver... except that obviously hasn't happened. It seems they manage to overcome the handicap of having a lower requirement in their home state.

It is, at best, a blatantly specious argument attempting to veil the Senators' loyalties being not to Washington, or even America as a nation, but first and foremost to their party and its ideology.

The will of their constituents be damned.

The Senators obviously know better, and aren't afraid to show it. Why merely represent us, when they can protect us from our own misguided intentions instead?

The fact that my repeated requests for a position statement on a vote were stonewalled for 5 weeks--and would have been indefinitely until a TV newsman enquired--underscores the lack of accountability and answerability our senators have to us, the electorate.

Their job, as they apparently need reminding, is to do the bidding of the electorate by voting its will.

Washington voters wanted this federal law: that much is clear from the two previous laws already passed here.

Come 2010, we'll need a Senator who is clear on where his/her loyalties should lie.

Posted by 6p0120a642cb17970c at October 15, 2009 11:31 PM | Email This
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