OLYMPIA – Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett, today released the following statement regarding the rollout of six bills aimed at reducing gun violence in the state:
“The people in my district and across Washington want us to take action to ensure the safety of our communities. With that in mind, the Senate is pursuing six pieces of commonsense, bipartisan legislation to reduce violence in our communities.
“Unfortunately our state is lagging behind when it comes to violence prevention. We have a comprehensive database that identifies people who have felony convictions, domestic violence convictions and restraining orders against them, but no mechanism to prevent these people from acquiring weapons through private sales or at gun shows.
“A recent poll showed that 92 percent of voters, and 91 percent of voters living in a home with a gun, support universal background checks. Just a few years ago, universal background checks also had the support of the NRA.
“We also must do everything we can to make sure that children do not have unsupervised access to firearms. Thirty other states have some sort of child firearm access prevention laws. Washington does not.
“The combination of mental illness and firearms can in some cases lead to tragedy. We are not intending to imply that people afflicted with mental illness are prone to violence, but we must provide intervention services early to improve the lives of those with mental illness and increase public safety. That is the intent behind the remaining bills in this package.
“Gun violence is preventable, which is why every case of it is so heartbreaking. Legislators from both parties have identified these six bills as the best methods in which to address and curtail the problem.”
The following bills are included in the Senate package:
- SB 5711 Universal Background Checks. Requires a background check through the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System database prior to all private sales, including those at gun shows. The check can be done through a licensed dealer or law enforcement office.
“If we are to have a serious anti-crime mission, then we have to keep bad guys from getting guns. Punishing people after the fact isn’t enough.”
–Sen. Adam Kline
- SB 5480 Accelerating implementation date expanding involuntary commitment. By moving up the date from July 2015 to July 2014 to expand the information used to determine if someone meets the criteria for involuntary civil commitment, this bill will help the mentally ill get the treatment and services they need — it will save lives.
“We can no longer delay this important step that will allow faster response to a mental health crisis. Lives depend on this stepped up timetable.”
–Sen. Karen Keiser
- SB 5479 Firearm safe harbor surrender. This violence prevention bill allows a person to voluntarily surrender a firearm to law enforcement for a 30-day renewable period of safe keeping. Currently law enforcement doesn’t have legal authority to do so.
“Police departments need to know they can help keep communities safe by accepting voluntary surrender of firearms for safekeeping during an individual’s mental health episode. This is a common sense step towards preventing gun violence.”
–Sen. Karen Keiser
- SB 5635 Not guilty by reason of insanity, Involuntary Treatment Act and restoration of right to possess. This bill grants courts the discretion to consider the restoration of firearm rights to a person who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity or has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment. The court may consider, in the restoration of firearm rights process, a person’s engagement in violent or unsafe behaviors.
“This legislation provides the courts a framework they may now work with when considering the restoration of firearm rights. We want to build safe communities and that starts with ensuring that those with firearms do not pose a risk to themselves or others.”
–Sen. Jeannie Darneille
- SB 5710 Concerning reckless endangerment resulting from unsafe storage of firearms. Extends common-sense protections to prevent children under the age of 12 from gaining access to a loaded firearm without adult supervision at home or in another location likely to be frequented by a child.
“This legislation simply applies common-sense practices when it comes to the safe storage of firearms in the home or other venues common to children. It’s important we don’t leave deadly weapons around where our children or our children’s friends can easily gain access to them.”
–Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles
- SB 5176 Addressing criminal incompetency and civil commitment. Widens the ability of the mental health system to hold, assess and treat offenders charged with a crime, but who are not competent to stand trial, will not be declared competent in the legally permitted time and do not meet the standards for civil commitment. Under this bill, more case-by-case reviews and evaluations would determine if the offender should be held for treatment, rather than being released, in the interests of public safety.
For interviews, please contact Sen. Nick Harper at 360 786-7674
For more information, contact Aaron Wasser at 360 786-7333