Senate Law and Justice Committee, Controlled by Gun Responsibility Champions, Hears Assault Weapons, Safe Storage Bills Long Blocked by Gun Lobby
Committee Also Passed Suicide Prevention Bill on Thursday with Bipartisan Support
Olympia, WA – Today, over 150 gun responsibility advocates, as well as Governor Jay Inslee and legislators from across Washington gathered to celebrate a strong start for gun responsibility legislation in the 2018 Legislation Session. On Thursday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee passed with bipartisan support Senate Bill 5553, a firearm suicide prevention bill. And earlier today, the Committee heard powerful testimony in support of commonsense gun violence prevention bills that had long been blocked by the gun lobby: Enhanced Assault Weapons Background Checks (Senate Bill 5444), Dangerous Access Prevention (Senate Bill 5463), and Restoration of Local Authority (Senate Bill 6146).
Throughout the day, senators heard support for commonsense gun responsibility legislation from survivors of gun violence, prosecutors, police officers, and gun owners and veterans, as well as mothers and grandmothers, medical professionals and educators.
“Washington state is leading the nation on gun violence prevention efforts,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “We have made significant progress over the past four years with bipartisan action in the Legislature and voter-driven ballot initiatives. Yet, we still have gaps and loopholes in the existing laws that we must address. Until we do, tragic events like the Las Vegas massacre will continue to claim lives. I urge the Legislature to consider the commonsense gun responsibility bills heard today and work across party lines to take meaningful action this session.”
“Washingtonians have made it clear every way that they possibly can: they want commonsense gun laws that save lives,” said Alliance for Gun Responsibility CEO Renée Hopkins. “It’s taken too long for the commonsense policies heard today to have gotten their due, and we’re thrilled that the Senate Law and Justice Committee heard the strong support for them today. Now the Legislature must work to ensure that we build upon the success of last year’s passage of House Bill 1501 and make 2018 the most significant gun responsibility session in recent history.”
Enhanced Assault Weapon Background Checks bill would raise the age of purchase to 21 years, require safety training, and change the fact that it’s easier to buy an assault weapon in Washington State than a handgun. Assault weapons have been used in high-profile shooting incidents, including the 2017 Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs shootings, the 2016 Mukilteo house party shooting, the 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, and far too many others.
“My sister, Carrie Parsons, was killed in Las Vegas during the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. Carrie was at a concert when she was killed. Just at a concert. It wasn’t high-risk behavior; it wasn’t a dangerous activity. She died after being shot and killed by a modified assault weapon,” said Lindsey Maiolino, a resident of Silverdale, WA. “Today in our state, it is easier to get an assault weapon than it is to get a handgun. That is wrong and we need to change the law.”
Restoration of Local Authority would restore local governments’ ability to build on statewide gun responsibility laws by taking additional steps to protect families and communities. For over 30 years, our local towns, cities and counties have been blocked from taking action on their own to prevent gun violence because of the statewide preemption law.
“Seattle has taken substantial steps to address gun violence. We require that lost or stolen guns be reported within 24 hours; we voted to approve a statewide initiative to require criminal background checks for all gun sales; and we tax gun sales and reinvest those proceeds in gun violence prevention, tracking and research,” said Carmen Best, Chief, Seattle Police Department. “But, we need to be doing more. Seattle should have the authority to limit guns in certain public spaces. Local governments can pass laws in other areas of public safety, such as traffic rules, city curfews, fireworks prohibitions, and building safety codes. Similarly, the City should have the authority to limit guns in areas like parks, libraries, and places where our kids learn and play.”
Dangerous Access Prevention, which has been introduced in the Legislature every year for the last two decades, would create strict liability for those whose unsafely stored firearms are used by a prohibited person to harm themselves or someone else.
“Data from 2013 to 2016 found that there are 1.8 million firearm owners in the state of Washington and approximately 800,000 of them store their firearms unlocked. I’ve been part of over 80 child fatality shooting reviews in King County since 1998. I can emphatically say unsafely stored guns are a prime cause of death for child and teen suicide and unintentional shootings,” said Tony Gomez, Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program Manager. “Dangerous Access Prevention will reduce firearm tragedies in every part of this state and put Washington on the right side of child, youth and community public health and safety.”
To see the Alliance’s complete 2018 legislative agenda, visit www.wagunresponsbility.org.
About the Alliance for Gun Responsibility
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility works to end the gun violence crisis in our community and to promote a culture of gun ownership that balances rights with responsibilities. Through collaboration with experts, civic leaders, and citizens, we work to find evidenced-based solutions to the crisis of gun violence in our community. We create innovative policy, advocate for changes in laws, and promote community education to reduce gun violence. Learn more at www.gunresponsibility.org and follow us at @WAGunResponsib.