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Kirkland among many cities in controversial gun control issue
Among the many jurisdictions, organizations and forces across the nation debating the issue of gun control versus protecting 2nd Amendment rights, Kirklanders are not exempt.
Kirkland resident Jacob Kukuk, 23, recently started an organization called the 2nd Enforcers, a nonprofit focused on protecting the right to bear arms. And just weeks later, the Kirkland City Council received a petition of 197 signatures from the Plymouth Church UCC of Seattle.
Both initiatives are in their infancy, and both have strong beliefs.
The Kirkland Police Department reported a significant surge in Kirkland’s concealed pistol license applications within the last few years. In 2010, 272 license applications were submitted, 489 license applications in 2011 and 874 license applications in 2012 - about a 221 percent increase over the three-year period.
“Due to all the recent shootings and the probable change in gun laws, it has increased,” said Kirkland police officer Audra Weber. “I think it just has to do with the current atmosphere with all the shootings and (proposed) gun laws.”
Kukuk attributes a rise in gun purchases as “stock piling,” of which he began to do himself two years ago when he turned 21.
“There’s a threat to a right to bear arms,” Kukuk said, noting that much of it has to do with President Barak Obama’s stance on the issue. “We will not have our arms infringed, we the people will not allow it.”
Kukuk, a software developer, created the 2nd Enforcers in January so that his group could band with other pro-2nd Amendment advocacy groups to create one “silo” of more than 100 militias to protect human rights from government tyranny.
“We the people have the right to assemble well-regulated militias for the purpose of the security of our freedoms,” Kukuk said in a news release.
The 2nd Enforcers have been active in the Washington Legislative agenda, having already been a part of two pro-gun rallies within the last month, although Kukuk is the only official member of the group so far.
Kukuk said the first rally turned out nearly 2,000 people, with members of the 2nd Amendment Organization, the Veterans Motorcycle Group, the Tea Party Patriots and various senators as a way to support Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, sponsored House Bill 1371, which would establish the Washington firearms freedom act of 2013 and is meant to add a new section to current law. It states: an “official, agent or employee of the United States government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation of the United States government upon a personal firearm … shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction, shall be subject to imprisonment for not less than 365 days or more than five years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both” among other rhetoric.
The most recent rally brought about 500 supporters and four senators to Olympia’s Tivoli Fountain on Feb. 8. “Overall, the rally went well…” said Kukuk. “Many people had the courage to speak up and tell their stories. We didn’t have any counter protesters and no problems with (Washington State Patrol) as we have always had a good impression with local law enforcement.”
Kukuk’s formal group is currently looking for four interim directors, but he is planning on having a Kirkland rally on Feb. 23 as a way to promote the 2nd Amendment.
Although the 2nd Enforcers have received support, there are those who do not approve of the way the 2nd Amendment currently stands. “Local officials need to understand there is an overwhelming desire to have restriction on gun control,” said Rev. Brigitta Remole, the senior minister of Plymouth Church. “Our children deserve the right to go to school without the fear of being killed and not be in fear of their lives …”
Remole said the church sent their petition to city councils all over King County but has received little to no response. However, she believes petitioning on a city level allows city officials to be a voice for change to help galvanize nationally elected leaders.
City spokeswoman Marie Stake said the council has not taken action on Remole’s petition.
The petition calls for a ban on all assault and assault-style weapons, including the buyback of such weapons; a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines; universal background checks; requirements for trigger locks and safe gun storage, micro-stamping technology on all firearms sold, bought or delivered to improve bullet tracing by law enforcement.
It also calls for investment in mental-health systems to promote well-being for those at risk for committing acts of violence, and an end to the glorification of violence in the entertainment and news industries.
The intent, the petition says, is to lessen the possibility of tragedies such as the one that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, which took 27 lives. “Sandy Hook was definitely a tipping point,” Remole said. “But we’ve had several mass killings over the past year. These sad stories are happening all around us.”
Remole said she hopes city officials in King County will take a leadership stance, as some members of her church have already gone to rally at the Washington State Legislature.
And it seems as though legislators are hearing those in favor of stricter gun control, as Rep. Jamie Pederson, D-Seattle, sponsored House Bill 1588 has received bipartisan vote.
The bill calls for universal background checks between private parties, instead of simply those who buy guns at federally licensed gun shops. Kirkland legislators Reps. Ross Hunter, Cyrus Habib, Larry Springer, Roger Goodman, Derek Stanford and Luis Moscoso are all secondary sponsors of the bill, while Sen. Rodney Tom supports its companion bill, Senate Bill 5625.