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Dem leadership encourages citizen-led gun safety initiatives

On Thursday afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill banning bump-fire stocks by a bipartisan 10-3 vote. The bill, ESB 5992, is one of very few gun-related pieces of legislation that has moved forward in Olympia.

At the beginning of session, hundreds of gun-rights supporters and gun-safety advocates descended upon Olympia to support, oppose, and testify on a broad package of gun legislation. While the Legislature heard several gun-related bills in committee, most bills didn’t move any further. Bills prohibiting the purchase of high capacity magazines, enhancing background checks, and creating liability for improperly stored firearms all missed the deadline to pass out of the Senate.

Now, particularly in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, Senator Sharon Nelson says it is time for a citizen-led initiative.

“What we’ve seen on gun issues in this state is when there’s an exceptional heavy lift, frequently we need a voter’s initiative. And in this case, especially after what happened yesterday, I would encourage citizens in this state to run another initiative and to cure this,” said Nelson.  “I think it’s time to run that initiative.  And we have difficulties on gun issues here in Olympia as you know, however we are making progress.”

Senator Andy Billig echoed Nelson’s sentiment saying,

“It’s difficult to move gun safety legislation through the legislature in Washington as it is in many legislatures and the United States Congress. So, a citizen initiative is an appropriate way to advance gun safety legislation. That’s an option for our citizens and something personally that I hope there is momentum building to do,” said Billig.

In 2014, Washington voters approved a universal background check initiative by nearly 60 percent and in 2016, an initiative to issue “extreme risk protection orders” passed with close to 70 percent approval. Senator David Frockt also added his voice to this issue in a press release on Thursday afternoon. Frockt says that though the extreme risk protection order issue started out as a bill in the Legislature, it was up to the people to put it into action.

“A few years ago, I sponsored the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, designed to prevent individuals at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms. The same interests who vigorously opposed that bill opposed our measures this year. The public was ahead of the elected officials however, and that measure later passed via the initiative process, with a resounding 69 percent of the vote.

The same dynamic continues to play out in Olympia. The majority of voters are ahead of the majority of politicians on these common-sense measures, and things will only change if there are mass numbers of voters who make their voices heard.”

You can read Senator Frockt’s full comments here.