Olympia, WA – Washington Governor Jay Inslee refused to sign the certificates for the winners of a police shooting championship due political reasons.
Inslee has withdrawn his support for a civilian and law enforcement marksmanship program that was established by the federal government well over a century ago, KIRO reported.
“We understand competitors will be disappointed by this decision,” Inslee’s office wrote in a letter to program organizers just before their annual awards banquet.
“However, the Governor believes constructive conversations and meaningful action around gun safety are necessary to better protect our families and communities,” the letter read.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a “congressionally mandated program whose basic mission is to provide rifle marksmanship training to U.S. civilians,” National Security and International Affairs Division Director of Army Issues Richard Davis wrote in a government review of the program in 1990.
“It was established in 1903 during a period in U.S. history when civilian training in marksmanship was viewed as essential to total military preparedness,” Davis explained.
In 1996, federal law mandated that the CMP’s key functions were to instruct citizens, promote firearm safety and practice, and to “conduct competitions in the use of firearms and to award trophies, prizes, badges and other insignia to competitors,” according to the CMP website.
“The law specifically states: In carrying out the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the corporation shall give priority to activities that benefit firearms safety, training, and competition for youth and that reach as many youth participants as possible,” the CMP noted.
Consistent with the practices of nearly every other state in the country, Washington CMP holds an annual competition and banquet recognizing the top law enforcement and citizen marksmen in the state, KIRO reported.
This year, a 16-year-old girl was one of the competition’s champions.
Certificates, signed by the governor, were considered among the highest honors.
“The certificates that were signed last May will be the final certificates signed by the governor,” Inslee’s office said in the statement, according to KIRO. “Governor Inslee is no longer able to support any program affiliated with the National Rifle Association (NRA), due to the organization’s obstructive efforts to undermine common sense gun safety measures, including those that enjoy broad public support.”
However, the NRA isn’t really involved.
Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association spokesperson Jane Milhans said that the CMP has registered their competitions with the NRA in order to meet national standards guidelines that enable contestants to qualify for nationwide records, KIRO reported.
“The big focus and emphasis [of the NRA] is all on safety, and even the NRA… will provide training to smaller law enforcement agencies that don’t have the manpower for a training department,” Milhans added.
Milhans said she believes the governor’s position was akin to “spitting in the face of law enforcement officers.”
“Law enforcement officers lay their lives on the line every day, and I feel they deserve the recognition,” she said. “He has turned this into a political situation, instead of being the non-biased, non-partisan governor that he should be and recognizing law enforcement officers.”
Milhans also pointed out that Inslee was ignoring female gun owners who gained firearm training and skills in order to keep themselves safe.
“He has not reached across the aisle to people like me, to talk about why women are firearm owners,” she said. “As a survivor of a home invasion, it’s really important to me that women learn how to protect themselves.”