Proposed gun legislation draws crowds to Olympia

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Emma Epperly/Columbia Basin Herald Ami Strahan, pictured in the middle with her hand held up to her face, lost her son during a school shooting near Spokane last year and was one of many who attended Monday’s public hearing in Olympia.

OLYMPIA — High-capacity magazines, undetectable firearms, seizure of weapons on domestic violence calls and training requirements to obtain a concealed pistol license were discussed on Monday during a public hearing in Olympia.

Over 2,000 people attended the hearing, which centered around four main bills. “Ghost guns,” as Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson refers to them, are undetectable or untraceable firearms and the subject of SB 5061. An undetectable firearm is any firearm that does not contain enough metal to set off walk-through metal detectors or to be accurately identified by an X-ray machine. These types of firearms are being manufactured most commonly via 3-D printers. Untraceable firearms are defined as firearms without a registered serial number and are also illegal under the proposed legislation.

Per the bill, manufacturing undetectable or untraceable firearms would constitute a class A felony. The bill would also create penalties for individuals who aid manufacturers of undetectable firearms, initially a misdemeanor and a class C Felony for a second offense. Ferguson is a proponent of both the undetectable firearms bill and a high-capacity magazine bill.

“Many folks I speak to in Washington state are surprised that there are no limits to your high-capacity magazine at all, no limits at all,” said Ferguson.

SB 5062 would limit the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds and limit the transportation of legally-possessed high-capacity magazines. A violation of the law would constitute a misdemeanor. Ami Strahan’s son Sam was shot and killed by a gunman at Freeman High School in Spokane last year. She testified on Monday in support of high-capacity magazine limits and “common-sense gun laws.”

“He’s going to miss everything and I have missed everything about him. I think about him every day. High-capacity magazines make it easier to shoot more people faster,” said Strahan. “No one law alone can prevent gun violence but there is more that we can do to keep our communities safe.”

Tom Kweiciak, a representative with the National Rifle Association (NRA), spoke in opposition to both bills.

“It’s important, I think, to clarify that these magazines are standard-capacity magazines that come with typical semi-automatic handguns that people use to defend themselves on a day-to-day basis,” said Kweiciak. “They make up over half the magazines owned in the United States.”

Another piece of legislation, SB 5143, would allow for law enforcement to remove weapons from the scene of domestic violence calls if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. The weapon(s) would be returned after five business days.

The fourth bill, SB 5174, lays out training requirements for obtaining a concealed pistol license. If passed, the law would require proof of completion of a recognized firearms safety training program in the last five years. The training could be sponsored by a law enforcement agency, college, nationally recognized organization or firearms training school. The training must include at least eight hours of instruction on basic firearms safety rules, safe storage of firearms, firearms and suicide prevention, state and federal firearms laws and live-fire shooting exercises.

The Senate Law and Justice Committee is scheduled to go in to executive session on Thursday and potentially move all of these bills to a vote on the Senate floor.

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