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Gun bills gain traction

Presumed deterrent for armed criminals.

‘Moving change forward:’ Anti-gun violence bills gain traction

Here's where they stand with Legislature end-date in view

The speed with which issues progress in Olympia is sometimes frustratingly slow. At other times, things move very quickly, as they are doing now. As of February 15, four significant gun violence prevention bills have been passed by their “houses of origin.” That means if a bill was written in the House of Representatives, it has been approved by the House and is now being considered by the Washington Senate and vice versa. All four proposals are working towards passage before the session ends on March 7. 

Keep guns away from places where kids gather

Senate Bill 5444 proposes to restrict the possession of a weapon “… on the premises of libraries, zoos, aquariums and transit facilities.” What is not obvious about this proposal is that the revised bill would allow anyone with a concealed pistol license to carry a weapon into the areas noted above. Nonetheless, the bill is important for the end-goal of stopping gun violence in Washington because it marks continuing progress in limiting places where guns can legally be carried.  

Requiring a report of loss or stolen guns in 24 hours

Fortunately, there are other measures which promise more. Reporting lost or stolen guns is a significant concern because these weapons are frequently are used in crimes There are about 380,000 guns stolen annually; being able to track the path from a legal user to an illegal one is one way that authorities can determine patterns of trafficking. House Bill 1903 would require the reporting of a lost or stolen gun within 24 hours. Anyone who does not report a loss or theft would face a civil charge and a fine.

Defining how to destroy guns after collections

Many municipalities accumulate guns that are taken for a variety of reasons. Local law enforcement agencies often work with companies that say they will destroy the guns for free. A recent New York Times article detailed how this process works and determined that the guns were not actually being destroyed. They were simply broken down into pieces which were then resold—and frequently used to make untraceable “ghost guns.”  House Bill 2021 addresses that issue by clearly defining what is meant by “destroy” in this context. The bill is mindful of the fact that ghost guns are illegal guns that are most often used in crimes. 

Requiring a ‘code of conduct’ for dealers

The last bill moving through the process is a “code of conduct” for licensed firearms dealers.  The goal is to protect the public by establishing additional requirements for licensed dealers. House Bill 2118 includes many additional requirements in areas including record keeping, background checks for employees, security of the business site, and storage of inventory, as well as a requirement for $1 million in liability insurance.

With the daily reports of gun violence occurring throughout the country, many citizen groups have spoken up to demand our government take action to turn the tide on this ongoing public health crisis. 

Washington leading in the anti-gun violence effort

Fortunately, Washington state is a leader in proposing and passing legislation to turn this painful tide. The list of state success in recent years includes many thoughtful and reasonable interventions, among them: 

  • a ban on assault weapons 
  • a restriction on open carry in specific locations 
  • the creation of “red flag” laws to provide ways to intervene before a gun event occurs 
  • a restriction on high-capacity magazines and bump stocks 
  • a requirement for background checks on sales of all firearms, and many others 

Groups such as Seattle-based Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Washington State PTA, and the national Moms Demand Action, rally their volunteers to attend public hearings and to testify on bills under consideration. Frequent “action alerts” go out from many groups, including the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, encouraging contact with local legislators to urge their support on pending legislation. 

A call to vote

Change has come in Washington state largely due to the election of legislators who voted for the changes listed above. The best way to continue this fight is to make sure voters cast their vote. If you want to see change in this area, support candidates who promise to take action and then carry out that promise.

Everything counts – every email, every phone call, every personal contact with lawmakers and other voters. The more people speak up and show up, the more chance we have to bring about the changes we want to see. 

Take action

Let your lawmakers know how you feel about legislation proposed to curb or end gun violence in Washington. Contact your lawmaker about any bill and ask how you can make your voice heard:

Read more:

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Grandmothers to lawmakers: Protect kids from guns

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Statwide Children’s Alliance agenda for children in 2024


About the Author

Dr. Jennifer Dolan-Waldman, Ed. D.

Jennifer Dolan-Waldman is a retired educator with an Ed.D. in Education Administration from Fordham University and a grandmother of three. She spent her career, working as a teacher, principal, district administrator, and assistant superintendent. In addition, she has volunteered as an English instructor to immigrants. Since her retirement, she has focused on serving her community by advocating for common sense gun reform and efforts to pass Washington state legislation that supports the reduction of gun violence as a member of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence.