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Saturday, January 14, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Pro-Gun Rally Dishonors Martin Luther King Jr.

MONDAY, on the steps of our state Capitol, pro-gun groups will make a mockery of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A rally, led by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, will pretend to honor the civil-rights leader who was gunned down in 1968 by rallying against gun controls. It is a sham. It is terribly timed.

The pro-gun rally is set in the aftermath of another tragic incident of gun violence. Garfield High School was stunned by shots inside the building, touching off fresh debate over how to control guns in schools.

A 15-year-old student is being held by police after wounding two other students with a handgun. Tragically, that incident happened shortly after an assembly to honor King and speak out against violence.

Go ahead and speak in Olympia against gun controls - but not in King's name. Alan Gottlieb, head of the Second Amendment Foundation, has implied that if King were alive, he would be on the side of the gun owners. "Dr. King would peaceably resist many of the attacks on the civil rights of gun owners and others by our elected officials," Gottlieb said.

A former associate of King's called that blasphemy. "Dr. King was committed to the sacredness of human life and nonviolence, and a gun is an instrument of violence," said the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He said King "watched any number of people die at the hands of guns. . . . This is a cheap attempt at publicity."

Organizers say legislators from both parties will speak at the rally.

Regardless of their positions on gun control, legislators should ignore this rally. On the day set aside to honor King, it dishonors him.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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