Wednesday, January 20, 2016
By Evan Smith
State Rep. Ruth Kagi’s bill to limit children’s access to firearms will have a hearing Thursday before a legislative committee in Olympia.
The State House Judiciary Committee will hold public hearings on Kagi’s bill and four other gun-related bills Thursday at 1:30pm.
The Kagi-sponsored Child Access Prevention Act, HB 1747, would create the crime of child endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm when a person stores or leaves the firearm in a place they know or should know is accessible to a child and the child does harm with the unsecured gun.
Judiciary Committee Democrats pointed out that this bill would not mandate how a firearm should be stored — just that adults take the responsibility for storing their guns so that young children or troubled teens can’t get easy access to the guns.
Kagi said Tuesday that there are too many instances of young children finding unsecured guns in their homes, at a family member’s or neighbor’s house, and accidentally shooting themselves or others.
In Washington, guns taken from the home have been at the heart of some of the most tragic gun violence incidents in our state, including the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, she said. Over a 25-year period, more than 65 percent of school shooters obtained the firearm at their home or that of a relative.
Additionally, she noted, one study found that more than 75 percent of guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, relative or friend.
The committee also will hear these bills:
HB 2461, the Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily prevent an individual going through a mental health crisis from accessing a gun.
HB 2460, which would give local municipalities the ability to choose what’s best for their community by restricting possession of firearms in local public places like parks, public transportation and libraries.
HB 2481, which would clarify and expand the exemption for gun owners to own, repair, buy or sell short-barreled rifles.
HB 2372, which would direct local law enforcement agencies to either keep or destroy guns acquired through criminal investigations. Currently, law enforcement agencies sell guns acquired through criminal investigations to licensed dealers.
Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Laurie Jinkins, a Tacoma Democrat who is sponsoring the Extreme Risk Protection Orders bill, said this:
“I’m optimistic for progress on common-sense gun safety legislation this year that would help keeps guns out of the hands of people going through a crisis, young children and teens,” adding,
“My Republican colleagues have always said they’d be willing to consider reasonable and fair approaches to preventing gun violence. On Thursday we’ll be hearing some reasonable solutions that balance rights and responsibilities, and we’ll need bipartisan support."
Kagi, a Democrat representing Shoreline and the rest of the 32nd Legislative District, said,
“Too many preventable tragedies occur when a young child or troubled teen has easy access to an unsecured gun,” adding,
“Responsible gun owners can prevent tragic accidental shootings by young children, and teen suicides, by simply securing their weapon. Kids are going to be kids. This bill will hold adults responsible for being adults.”
The 32nd District includes South Edmonds, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas, Lynnwood, part of Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline and a small area of north Seattle.
Evan Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.