Activists hoping to repeal or amend Initiative 594 requiring background checks for private gun sales and transfers have been visible this year in Olympia, but supporters for further gun regulations packed a news conference Tuesday to support legislation that would build on the initiative.
Jane Weiss, aunt of Veronika Weiss, who was murdered in a mass-killing that left six people dead in Isla Vista, Calif., near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, last May, spoke at the news conference.
“It breaks my heart that the parents of Veronika’s killer knew their son had exhibited dangerous mental-health issues,” Weiss said. “They even reached out to law enforcement but had no way to intervene, no tools at their disposal.”
The group had three priorities: blocking amendments to I-594, passing House Bill 1857 to allow judges to temporarily block mentally ill and at-risk individuals from getting guns, and passing House Bill 1747 to hold guardians accountable for violence committed by children, whether accidentally or otherwise, as a result of an improperly stored gun.
“While this legislation won’t stop every shooting, we need to get people who are in in a position to notice warning signs like family members and law enforcement a way to help prevent a tragedy before it happens,” Weiss said of HB 1857.
State Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, is the primary sponsor on the Senate’s version of the bill that would temporarily block of gun purchases and ownership for mentally ill or at-risk individuals.
Frockt’s bill is based on a California law that passed in response to the Isla Vista shootings, and would expand options for mentally ill people to be denied a gun temporarily if they would otherwise pass a background check.
“If someone is disturbed and we can have an intervention mechanism we should do it,” Frockt said. “Because it’s common sense, I think we have a chance [to pass HB 1857].”
However, Frockt said the chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, will not give the bill a hearing. Padden, who supports amendments to initiative 594, did not return a call for comment. The proposed amendments would exempt police, licensed security guards and military personnel from gun transfer regulation.
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 28 other states and Washington, D.C., have child-access prevention laws and 15, plus D.C., have protections based on negligent storage of firearms — the type proposed by Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle.