Background Checks and Guns in the Chamber

I recorded a video last week that describes my dissapointment at not passing HB 1588, a quite reasonable bill that would have required background checks on gun purchasers to ensure that we are not enabling felons or those with serious mental health or domestic violence issues to purchase guns. The bill has been written about extensively in the press so I don’t want to recap that here, but the video will give you some sense of why members are concerned that people can carry assault rifles (or any firearm for that matter) into the galleries overlooking the House Chamber.

Improving Gun Safety in Washington State

Photo from Seattle Times of Pro-Gun Rally in Olympia
Photo from Seattle Times of Pro-Gun Rally in Olympia

I’ve held off commenting on gun safety because I wanted to think about it for a while after the Sandy Hook incident. Writing new policy in knee-jerk response to a single incident typically is a bad idea. However, there have been enough incidents that I think we need to respond and create a safer place to live.

I have already received a lot of email on this issue and I try to address most of the issues that have come up. You may have to scroll to the bottom to get to yours – there have been a LOT of issues raised.

Some people think about this issue from a “rights” perspective – “I have a constitutional right to own whatever kind of firearm I want” and some from a public health perspective – “it turns out to be a bad idea to let people with unresolved mental health problems or domestic violence issues, felons, and children own dangerous weapons.” We can balance these two perspectives in reasonable ways.

Continue reading “Improving Gun Safety in Washington State”