February 11, 2013 at 4:13 PM
Senate Democrats introduce six bills on guns and mental health
After nearly a month of discussions in the state House about a wide range of proposals to reduce gun violence, the state Senate is getting into the debate.
Senate Democrats introduced six bills Monday dealing with firearm restrictions and mental health that may face resistance in the GOP-controlled chamber.
The most high-profile measure would require background checks for all gun purchases, ending exceptions for private sales at gun shows, between friends on the street and anywhere else. A similar bill has been introduced in the state House, and President Barack Obama is pushing the entire country to move in that direction.
The package also includes measures to increase the state’s ability to civilly commit those who might be dangerous; to allow residents to voluntarily surrender a gun to law enforcement for 30 days for safe-keeping; and to make it a crime for a person to leave a loaded firearm in a place where a child is likely to gain access.
“The people in my district and across Washington want us to take action to ensure the safety of our communities,” said state Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett, in a news release announcing the package.
Prospects for passage are unclear.
The background-check bill has support from two Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, a Medina Democrat who is caucusing with a majority coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats. Still, the Senate committee tasked with setting gun policy is run by Mike Padden, R-Spokane, who does not favor many more gun restrictions.
The Legislature was expected to consider a variety of gun-policy proposals this session, in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings. Many state lawmakers have gotten high marks from the National Rifle Association, the nation’s dominant pro-gun lobby.
State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, promised the crowd Friday at a Second Amendment rally in Olympia that the state Senate would protect the rights of gun owners.
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