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New bill would promote school safety in wake of mass shooting

OLYMPIA — A bill introduced Friday by Sen. David Frockt would align the age and background check requirements for the purchase of certain rifles with those already existing for handgun purchases.

Senate Bill 6620 also prioritizes school safety in the wake of a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida by creating mechanism for students to report dangerous behavior and by providing funding for emergency response systems.

“The brave students of Parkland, Florida have changed the conversation in this country regarding gun safety,” said Frockt, D-Seattle. “This shooting reminded us that there’s a lot of work to be done when it comes to school safety. It reminded Washingtonians that our own children are just as much at risk.

“This is a logical, reasonable, common-sense step toward preserving the safety of our students, teachers and school staff. I encourage other lawmakers to stand with me in support of this potentially life-saving measure.”

The bill is based on previous legislation introduced at the recommendation of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and would do the following:

  • Requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to allocate grants to school districts for the purpose of implementing emergency response systems. These systems would expedite law enforcement response.
  • Create the Students Protecting Students program within the Office of the Attorney General. Students would be able to anonymously report via telephone, text or email potentially dangerous, violent or criminal activities. Information would immediately be forwarded to local law enforcement and/or school officials.
  • Aligns the requirements for sale or transfer of a rifle with tactical features with existing requirements for the sale or transfer of a handgun. Purchasers would have to be 21 or older. The sale or transfer of these guns would require a state and federal background check.

Currently, these firearms may be purchased by anyone 18 or older, and with only a federal background check.

SB 6620 will be sent to the Senate Ways & Means Committee for consideration.