WA lawmakers push bill to make open carry a crime

Washington State Capitol building (Dave Workman)

Grassroots gun rights activists in Washington State are scrambling to rally opponents to a bill in the state House of Representatives that could, according to the National Rifle Association, “cause individuals lawfully open carrying to become immediate felons.”

House Bill 1283 is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. before the Committee on Civil Rights and Judiciary, and will be discussed by that committee in executive session on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 8 a.m. Translation, the Democrat majority is fast-tracking this bill.

To sign in and testify, go here.

Here’s the text of this one-page measure:

“AN ACT Relating to including the open carry or display of weapons within the offense of criminal mischief; amending RCW 9A.84.010; and prescribing penalties.


“Sec. 1. RCW 9A.84.010 and 2013 c 20 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:

 “(1) A person is guilty of the crime of criminal mischief if, acting with three or more other persons, he or she ((knowingly)):

“(a) Knowingly and unlawfully uses or threatens to use force, or 10 in any way participates in the use of such force, against any other 11 person or against property; or

“(b) Openly carries or displays a deadly weapon in a manner that would lead a reasonable person to feel threatened.

 “(2)(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, the crime of criminal mischief is a gross misdemeanor.

“(b) The crime of criminal mischief is a class C felony if the actor is armed with a deadly weapon.”

According to the NRA, “this measure contains no exceptions for individuals who are defending themselves at home or on their own property. Not even law enforcement, military, or those carrying firearms in an official capacity are exempted.

“HB 1283 overreaches in its intent,” an NRA alert message says, “by causing those who are lawfully carrying a concealed firearm to be entrapped by a felony charge if the firearm accidentally becomes visible. HB 1283 throws such a wide net that many law-abiding gun owners could potentially become felons if this measure is passed, and it needs to be stopped!”

Evergreen State gun rights activists are stepping up to the plate, and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which is headquartered in the state, has also alerted the grassroots.

Open carry has been legal in Washington since statehood was achieved on November 11, 1889. The state constitution enumerates the right to bear arms in Article 1, Section 24, which reads,The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Jessica Bateman, Liz Berry, Joe Fitzgibbon, David Hackney, My-Lin Thai, Shelley Kloba, Nicole Macri, Strom Peterson, Gerry Pollet, Alex Ramel, Tana Senn, Monica Jurado Stonier, Kirsten Harris Talley, Javier Valdez, all Democrats.

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