Under current state law, juveniles are getting the message that carrying a firearm is no big deal, so state lawmakers will again be asked to increase penalties for people under 18 caught with a gun, according to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who is supported in the effort by both gun-control activists and gun-rights advocates.
“Washington State law is ridiculously lenient,” Satterberg said at a news conference this morning alongside Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and state Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw.
Also supporting the revamped legislation, which has failed to pass the past three years, is Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes; Ralph Fascitelli, president of Washington Cease Fire; and Dave Workman, of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Kline and Hurst — who acknowledged that they disagree on most issues — said they will be introducing legislation in both houses this coming session that would require juveniles who are charged with a first firearms offense to spend 10 days in secure detention. A second offense would bring a 15- to 36-week stay at a juvenile rehabilitation facility.
Additional offenses would see increased time in lockup, under the proposed legislation.
Though a curriculum hasn’t been developed yet, the proposed legislation would also include an educational element, so that teens would learn about the medical and legal consequences of gun violence.
Now, most juveniles caught for the first time with a firearm receive deferred dispositions, whereby they are released from custody and aren’t punished even if they violate court conditions, Satterberg said.
It takes five firearms convictions before a juvenile is sentenced to 15 weeks in juvenile rehabilitation, he said.