05. October 2023 · Comments Off on Ag and Rural Caucus -October 2023 · Categories: Committee News, Recent Events

ARC for October

Obsession has its limits

Last evening’s conversation (Stop the Killing) was both passionate and respectful. I thank all you who elected to participate. Unfortunately, we were only a handful. That alone says something. My problem statement calling for redirecting of our policy from more effective gun control to robust social measures to stop the violence apparently does not resonate.

I had teased that we were obsessive not about guns but about making rural Washington competitive for Democrats. Even obsessions, though, have their limits. It is apparent that the personal and moral pain surrounding guns offsets our electoral ambitions. There are limits to how far we choose to compromise.

We had scant convergence last evening. People left the meeting with pretty much the same position they had when they joined the meeting. Several participants were pleased we were taking a fresh look at guns. Others rejected the idea, with passion.

Guns will continue to part of the conversation in rural Washington, with or without us. Will we engage that conversation anticipating necessary compromise to reach constructive agreement? Will we seek convergence? Some of us will; some of us will choose not to. Each choice is respected.

6 October 2023

Suicide, Homicide, and Mass Killings

We all respond with horror to school shootings or killings in shopping malls or churches. We should. The victims are innocent, often children. They have done nothing to place themselves in harm’s way. Their daily routine is interrupted – forever. And we pay attention.

Nearly 50,000 people die by firearms each year. Too many. And too many die by their own hand with guns. Suicides account for 54 percent of deaths by firearm. Homicides are 43 percent. That leaves 3 percent who die by “active shooters” in mass killings.

Pistols – not rifles – are the firearm of choice in suicides, homicides, and active shooter events. The last category may surprise. The FBI reports that last year active shooters used more handguns than rifles.

So, handguns used in suicide and homicide should grab our attention more than active shooters and assault rifles. The opposite is true. Why? Drama makes a difference, of course. And active shootings are increasing. That makes a difference too.

A friend suggests that our heightened sensitivity to active shooter events also may have something to do with our sense that we should be able to manage our own risk of suicide and homicide, not perfectly but pretty much. With active shootings, all our notions of personal agency are violated. There is no rhyme or reason for why we survive or die. It is the perfect prescription for terror.


Are we obsessed with guns? No. We are obsessed with making Democrats competitive in rural Washington.

We are about shifting the narrative on guns. Our candidates need this; our party needs this; our democracy needs this. “This” is re-making “gun control” into “stop the killing”.

This is part strategy. Democrats cannot be heard in rural Washington. Because we are distrusted on guns, we are shut out talking about women’s rights or equitable health care or Washington’s regressive tax structure. Democrats are shut out of talking about jobs because we are “soft” on guns. The strategy is to neutralize guns, take them away as a valence issue, an issue that divides us and them
The other part is policy. We cannot pretend to gain trust on firearms without making concessions. We have to internalize that our interest is to stop the killing,  not remove firearms from American society. And we have to be careful about our language.

Policy around “stop the killing” is not just concession. There is opportunity. The opportunity is to build larger coalitions around the health of our communities. If we focus on the act and the actor, we in Washington need to invest in that actor, that person. Investing in the person means support for mental health therapy. It means early childhood intervention. It means building our families. It means investing in our communities. We can mobilize support for investing in our human resources around the reduction of violence. Even Democrats who resist a shift from removing guns to reducing violence, can welcome Republicans in advocating robust child and family programs.

Opening conversation about guns is a proxy for being worth talking to in rural Washington. Our candidates need this opportunity.

See you Thursday.

1 October 2023

Stop the Killing – Start the Talk

Our next step? Conversation with “the other side.”

We left our last meeting a little unsure of what to do next in re-casting the “gun control” rhetoric into a “stop the killing” narrative, into a narrative that we rural Democrats can use to engage our neighbors. In retrospect, the answer was clear. We have to talk to someone from the gun community
Bob Bloch is from my home town. We graduated from Whitman College a year apart. We share friends, though we have not been in touch for some thirty years. And he has been active in the Walla Walla Gun Club since 1965. He is committed to firearm safety, and to firearms.

I would like to say that I had to work hard to get Bob to talk with us. Truth is, Bob wants to break down the divides as much as we do. He was an easy sale. I didn’t cheat though – Bob is not a ringer. Bob, rather, is the sort of skeptical citizen whose trust we eventually need to earn.

Bob concedes that the gun lobby has its crazies. Without quite conceding that we have crazies in our own ranks, we do come to this discussion with different viewpoints. Some of us reject guns wholesale, having seen gun violence first hand. Others of us are more comfortable with firearms, having been taught firearm safety early on by our fathers. Starting with a “stop the killing” objective, maybe we can approach common ground among ourselves, just as we explore common ground with Bob.

Join us next Thursday, 5 October. Bring your good humor along with your thoughts and values.

27 September 2023

October Schedule

6:30 pm Thursday 5 October 

Stop the Killing…Start the Talk

Bob Bloch
Walla Walla Gun Club


6:30 pm Thursday 19 October

Rural Newspapers: importance and viability
The Eagle (Wahkiakum)
The Islands’ Sounder
The Miner (Pend Oreille)


Join me in Spokane

The State Party is spotlighting the constituency caucuses Friday evening at five o’clock. The Ag and Rural Caucus will have a table. Please come and join me at the table. We can use the time to chat among ourselves if traffic is light.

We will not have a formal session at the State Committee. We will try to squeeze in a social gathering.

I am working on a Better Practices program for 5 October. I will have more information later in the week.

Our Policy Series on 19 October takes up community newspapers, their role and viability.

25 September 2023

Our Better Practices roundtable is on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm.. Use the link above for 2023.

Our Policy Series is on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm. Use the link above for 2023. 

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Ag and Rural Caucus of State Democratic Central Committee
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Ag and Rural Caucus
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