|The victory pushed tight against a critical legislative deadline, but advocates for responsible gun ownership are celebrating today after the Washington State House of Representatives’ passed House Bill 1143 out of its chamber and on to the Senate for consideration last night.
If HB 1143 is approved by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, it would require a waiting period for the purchase of all firearms. Proponents say the bill is an evidence-based policy that would protect communities from preventable gun violence.
Waiting and training
Jennifer Dolan-Waldman, legislative liaison for Seattle-based Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, said negotiations on the bill were tense on March 7, but the organization is thrilled by the 52 to 44 vote outcome in favor of the bill.
“While the (original) bill has been modified somewhat, we are thrilled to see that as passed it will require a 10-day waiting period to purchase, a background check and firearm safety training,” Dolan-Waldman said. “The House session began in late afternoon on Tuesday and closed after 11 p.m.”
Next steps for HB 1143
HB 1143 now goes to the Washington State Senate where it will need to pass out of the Senate Law & Justice Committee in order to go up for a vote on the Senate floor before the 2023 legislative session ends on April 23.
Alliance for Gun Responsibility CEO Renée Hopkins said of he bill’s requirement of a 10-day waiting period: “Research shows that delaying a person in crisis from gaining access to a firearm can be the difference between life and death.”
“We are so thankful that the House prioritized passing HB1143,” Hopkin’s said. “While it is not the full permit-to-purchase structure, it maintains two vital components that we know will save lives. In particular, waiting periods are critical in reducing suicide by firearm.”
Another critical deadline tonight: HB 1240
With HB 1143 safe for the time being, anti-gun violence advocates are turning their focus today on the passage of House Bill 1240, which would make Washington the 10th state to ban assault weapons. The House has until the end of the day today, March 8, to move that measure forward.
“Assault weapons are the weapon of choice for mass shooters,” said Hopkins. “They are designed to kill quickly and efficiently and have been used in each of the deadliest mass shootings. HB 1240 will keep these weapons of war out of our communities.”
Quantifying the toll
Alliance Policy and Advocacy Manager Hazel Brown further quantified the impact of gun violence in this region and across the country in an earlier email to alliance supporters:
“The human cost of the gun violence epidemic cannot be quantified. It is measured in empty seats at the dinner table, in milestones missed, in families grieving,” Brown wrote. “The economic cost of gun violence, on the other hand, can be calculated. Every year, gun violence costs Washington state 11.9 billion dollars–171.7 million of that bill is footed by taxpayers.”
The Alliance’s Hopkins stressed that as HB 1143 bill heads to the Senate, and if HB 1240 joins it, her organization “will need ongoing communication about importance of this bill from parents across Washington state.” To receive the Alliance’s direct asks for bill support, go to the organization’s sign up page.