Topic: gun violence
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February 11, 2013 at 4:13 PM
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.
December 17, 2012 at 4:04 PM
The Seattle City Council today amended its annual legislative agenda to include several gun-safety measures in the wake of the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school Friday that left 27 people dead, including 20 children.
The council called on its city lobbyists to seek in the 2013 Legislature a ban on all assault weapons, a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines, universal background checks including at gun shows, trigger locks and storage requirements, and micro-stamping technology on all firearms to improve the capability of police to trace fired bullets.
Councilmember Tim Burgess, who introduced the gun-safety amendment, cited research on gun violence that shows that states with just three regulations — an assault weapons ban, trigger locks and safe storage requirements – -have lower levels of gun deaths per capita than states without these protections.
The amendment passed unanimously, but Councilmember Bruce Harrell cautioned that the city’s legislative agenda — the priorities it gives its lobbyists for the Legislative session — has included gun safety measures every year since 2008, without results.
Harrell called for a special committee made up of police, prosecutors, public-health and youth advocates to explore a statewide ballot initiative that would give cities the authority to regulate firearms.
Harrell said an initiative would allow a direct vote of the people and get around the strong pro-gun lobby in Olympia. He said many states allow cities to adopt stricter gun regulations including New York, Illinois, Massachussetts and New Jersey.
The city under Mayor Greg Nickels tried to ban weap0ns from parks and community centers, but that ban was struck down by the courts because state law does not allow cities to pass gun legislation more restrictive than the state’s.
Former City Councilmember Tina Podlodowski also called for a state initiative, but one that would ban assault rifles and close the gun-show loophole, rather than seeking authority for cities to enact their own gun laws.
Writing in the online journal Crosscut, Podlodowski said, “I’m not naive enough to think that one initiative campaign is a panacea in a country that has 270 million guns in private hands.” But she said that Washington has led the way with progressive initiatives on gay marriage and marijuana reform. She said state voters can “make a start at lasting change nationwide.”
On Friday, Mayor Mike McGinn also called for stronger gun-control laws, noting that “those that oppose those changes will just try to ride out” the inevitable calls for tougher laws.
McGinn said, “It is the duty of the people and of elected officials to keep the pressure on because that is what will happen if we do not take this as the call to action that it should be.”
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