Gov. Jay Inslee and state lawmakers are pushing to pass legislation that would force people to store their guns safely and which they say would fix a loophole in the current law, which makes it easier to get an assault weapon than a handgun.
OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee and state lawmakers are pushing to pass legislation that would force people to store their guns safely and would fix what some call a loophole in the current law, which makes it easier to get an assault weapon than a handgun.
Gun control advocates and Inslee met at the Capitol Thursday to call for enhanced background checks when buying or selling assault weapons and to enforce safe gun storage.
Democratic Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, the sponsor of House Bill 1387, said her bill aims to prevent accidental and mass shootings in Washington state. Under the measure, a person would have to be 21 years old to purchase an assault weapon, would be required to undergo an expanded background check similar to those required for concealed weapons, attend an education course and go through the renewal process every year.
Jinkins said this topic is personal for her because a drive-by shooter shot at her nephew and his friends while walking home from school one day. She said he lived because he was on the other side of the street, but some kids aren’t so lucky.
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“We have a lot of data now with mass shootings that assault weapons hurt and kill a lot more people and do it a lot faster,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure that these kinds of weapons stay out of the hands of dangerous people”
At the news conference, Inslee said “these bills simply ask Washingtonians to be responsible for their firearms.” He said he knows responsible gun owners understand that, but these measures would ensure the entire state be held to the same standard.
Democratic Rep. Ruth Kagi of Seattle said the biggest way people can contribute to saving lives is by safely storing guns. House Bill 1122 would make it illegal for any person to leave a firearm lying around unprotected where a prohibited person, such as a child or criminal, could access it.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Adam Cornell, told the group his worst day out of the 15 years working in Snohomish County was when he arrived at the scene where a 19-year-old, Allen C. Ivanov, shot and killed three of his former high school classmates at a house party in Mukilteo last year.
Authorities say Ivanov opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle he had just purchased. Ivanov pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to life in prison.
“That shooting, those murders,” he paused and said, “occurred in a span of less than 35 seconds … Assault weapons are the most efficient killers of people that we have in our communities.”
Inslee said there’s a loophole in the state’s law that doesn’t require background checks for assault weapons.
“It shouldn’t be so easy to get your hands on an assault rifle,” Cornell said. “The legislation proposed is responsible, it’s common sense and it will go far toward making sure the tragedy at Mukilteo never happens again.”
Brett Bass is one of Bellevue Gun Club’s Range Managers and is certified by the NRA as a Range Safety Officer, Rifle Instructor, and Pistol Instructor, and is a sergeant in the Individual Ready Reserve of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Bass voiced his “very strong” opposition, along with other gun rights advocates, toward the legislation at a public hearing held later that day. He said assault weapons are beneficial in home invasion situations where assailants attack a person at dark and in bad conditions.
He said being able to react rapidly in a time of self-defense is what keeps those individuals safe.
“Firearms of these types are disproportionally more useful for individual people who are defending themselves against multiple assailants than they are against a single attacker targeting multiple defenseless people,” he said. “A single attacker, going after multiple defenseless people, doesn’t need to reload at any sort of rapid time.”