What can the new 43rd rep do about gun violence?

IMG_7318-2 (1)The response to last week’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando remains very much reactive. On Seattle’s Capitol Hill there have been vigils and marches. LGBTQ venues in the neighborhood are participating in active shooter trainings ahead of next week’s Pride celebration. As attention turns toward what can be done to prevent future atrocities, CHS asked candidates running to represent the 43rd District what they would do in Olympia on the issue of gun violence.

Most of the eight candidates expressed their support for stricter gun laws at the federal level, including a ban on assault weapons. At the state level, several candidates said they would like to expand background checks and make it harder for people with a history of mental illness to acquire firearms.

Washington voters may also have a chance to do something in November as a signature gathering campaign is underway to put a gun control initiative on this year’s ballot. I-1491 would “temporarily prevent individuals who are at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms by allowing family, household members, and police to obtain a court order.”

Support for the measure was strong among the 43rd District candidates. Here is what they had to say.

Scott Forbes
Forbes touted his work with the Democratic Party and the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility to enact I-594 which expanded criminal background checks to all firearm purchases in the state. He said the state also must go further, starting with repealing the law that preempts local firearms regulations.

I will work with other legislators and community leaders to repeal RCW 9.41.290, the state law that ties Seattle’s hands and prevents local gun control ordinances. I will also take the lead on reintroducing legislation to enact a statewide ban on assault weapons. Nothing in the Second Amendment prevents us from banning semiautomatic weapons, and only a lack of political will prevents us from protecting our communities from the weapons being used to commit these acts of mass murder. The people have repeatedly indicated that they support common-sense gun laws, and that they want our state legislature to act.

Dan Shih
Shih said he supports basic background checks at the state level and requiring a gun safety class in order to obtain a concealed carry permit. He was also the only candidate to raise the possibility of a “graduated ownership” requirement for firearms.

In addition, we need to restrict the ability to purchase and own certain assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, either by essentially banning them or, at a minimum, by imposing graduated ownership requirements. For example, with a graduated ownership requirement, you would not be able to buy such excessively lethal weaponry as your first firearm. You should have to demonstrate safe and responsible ownership of a more basic firearm for an extended period–say, seven years–before you could be potentially eligible, and then only subject to background and mental health checks and other appropriate restrictions.

We also need to improve the implementation of laws, namely H.B. 1840, requiring surrender of firearms by people, such as domestic violence perpetrators, whom a judge has deemed a credible threat. I am serving on a King County task force focused on doing just that to protect domestic violence survivors.

Sameer Ranade
Ranade struck a more holistic tone in his approach, saying the state should encourage as much diversity as possible in public schools to breakdown barriers. “I would like to address the issue as a state legislator and have plans to meet with gun control advocates before I roll out a formal proposal which I may do in the next week,” he told CHS.

Sadly, the safety of our LGBTQ community in the 43rd is at risk because of twisted and ignorant people who can legally acquire guns. A common sense step to make it harder for them to do so is to suspend the access to guns for those with a record of violence and mental illness. Please sign and support Initiative 1491, an effort led by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility to accomplish this in Washington State. It still needs more signatures to make it to the November 2016 ballot.

Nicole Macri
In a phone call between campaign events, Macri told CHS she is in favor of prohibiting gun sales to people on a terror watch list or those with “clear signs of mental instability.” “We really need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” she said. Macri also favors a ban on assault weapons.

Marcus Courtney
In his response, Courtney expressed his condolences for the victims of the Orlando shooting and the continued targeting of LGBT community. He was also the only candidate to raise the issue for restricting firearms to those convicted of domestic violence.

The easy access to assault weapons and other types of firearms needs to be regulated in a common sense way to protect the public health of all Americans, especially ones that could be victims of hate crimes. I favor background checks, assault rifle bans, and preventing domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.

John Eddy
Eddy said he was disappointed to see support for using the no-fly list as a means test for gun ownership since it has a “horrible record” of identifying tracking threats. However, he said he would support allowing the FBI to be notified when people on their watch list purchases a gun. Eddy was the only candidate to raise the possibility of a firearms ID card.

Lastly, HB-2354, just re-introduced in March. I appreciate what the bill wants to accomplish. I worry, however, that is an empty gesture without neighboring states entering in, must as could be inferred from (you’ll have to excuse me citing Andy Richter on this…) I think the legislature’s time could be better spent working on some of the other gun control measures. Much of what I would do will depend on I-1491, but I’d also dearly love to tilt at the windmill of a Firearms ID card. I happily replied to the NRA endorsement questionnaire with the full expectation that I’m not going to meet their muster in the least. If I get higher than a C, I’m really going to have to figure out what I said that gave them the wrong idea.

Zach Zaerr
As the only self-proclaimed sportsman of the group, Zaerr said he understands the concerns of hunters. The only Republican in the race said he generally opposes government control, but that “some safety precautions need to be taken”

I do think there are a lot of mental health exams and waiting periods that need to be looked at. I don’t claim to have an answer, but I think we can add some checks.

Thomas Pitchford
Pitchford has not yet responded to our request for comment.

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