Evergreen State gun prohibitionists hinted Monday that if they fail to move their gun control agenda through the legislature this year, they may consider another initiative.
Gun rights activists across the country should pay attention because Washington seems to be a test tube state in which well-financed gun control groups see what they can push before trying it across the country.
Renee Hopkins, head of the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility, was quoted by the Seattle Times telling a press conference, “We’re always open to taking things to the ballot.”
The Alliance is a well-financed gun control lobbying effort with support during past initiative efforts from wealthy elitists including billionaire Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates. They passed a background check measure in 2014 that cost $10.4 million for the campaign.
But tossing the initiative potential into the discussion Monday was like firing a signal flare that even if Washington State gun owners prevail in the Legislature, their troubles may only just be beginning. Gun owners do not have the kind of campaign war chest that anti-gunners can amass.
Monday’s testimony was evenly split between proponents and opponents of the gun control measures. Now that Democrats have full control of the Legislature, they are bringing these measures up for hearings and votes.
One measure, SB 5992, would ban “bump stocks” and other trigger enhancement devices, according to opponents. Representatives from the National Rifle Association, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Firearms Policy Coalition and Gun Owners Action League of Washington all testified on this and other legislation. The Senate Law and Justice Committee is scheduled to take up the bill Tuesday in executive session.
Another measure that gun owners view as a threat is SB 6049, which would ban so-called “high capacity” magazines. These, according to opponents, are original capacity magazines and the bill would not only impact owners of modern sport-utility rifles such as the AR-15, it would also create problems for handgun owners. Many modern semiautomatic pistols carry more than ten rounds in their magazines.
A third bill, SB 5463, is a “safe storage” bill that is aimed at convincing gun owners to lock up their firearms.
Even if the bills pass the Senate, they could face problems in the House. Last Friday, Democrat State Rep. Brian Blake declared his opposition to all of these measures vowing, “I will never vote against gun rights.” Blake may typify the state’s rural Democrats whose constituents are gun owners.
Perhaps the biggest threat Washington gun owners face, even though some insiders give it little chance of passing, is SB 6146, a proposal that would end state preemption, adopted more than 30 years ago to keep gun laws uniform. Testifying against the bill Monday was Phil Watson with the Firearms Coalition, who warned that it would return the state to the days of patchwork quilt gun laws that change from one jurisdiction to the next.
CCRKBA’s Alan Gottlieb told the committee that state preemption should be strengthened rather than weakened.
“A patchwork quilt of gun laws places honest law-abiding gun owners at risk as they travel from city to city, county to county across our state,” he said
NRA’s Keely Hopkins testified about the history of state preemption and likewise said eliminating preemption would make it difficult for gun owners to legally travel across the state.
“Citizens that have no criminal intent should not be placed in jeopardy of violating local restrictions that they aren’t even aware of,” she said.
FPC’s Watson bluntly told the committee, “If this measure were about marriage, book stores, churches, liquor stores, cars, hospitals, voting or abortion clinics it would be dead on arrival.”