Even before he releases details of his proposals to reduce gun violence Wednesday, President Obama faces strong opposition in Congress. Passing gun control measures will be no easier in Olympia.
There is no shortage of gun control ideas this session; most have been trotted out before. The Seattle City Council’s legislative wish list has five proposals including a ban on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines. City councilmember Tim Burgess says the council also favors universal background checks, which means closing what’s known as the “gun show loophole.” The city council is also looking for a sponsor for a bill to mandate microstamping.
“That is a technology that improves the police capability of tracing fired bullets,” said Burgess, calling microstamping a reasonable gun safety measure.
President Obama Wednesday will be unveiling his proposals to fight gun violence. The White House says he and Vice President Joe Biden will be joined by children who wrote the president letters after the Newtown shooting. Congressional officials say Obama has been weighing 19 steps he could take through executive action alone, possibly including ordering stricter action against people who lie on gun sale background checks. There could also be tougher penalties against gun trafficking. And schools could be given more flexibility to use grant money to improve safety.
Before anything happens in Olympia, gun legislation needs a sponsor and leadership.
“President Obama has shown leadership, Governor (Andrew) Cuomo passed an assault weapons ban in New York, Governor (John) Hickenlooper of Colorado has been out front; we want see more leadership from our Governor,” said Ralph Fascitelli, board chairman of Washington Cease Fire.
He thinks one piece of gun legislation has a good chance of passage in Olympia. “We actually think there’s a real good shot that we’re gonna pass a bill that significantly toughens underage possession of firearms that has bi-partisan support,” said Fascitelli. He’s more pessimistic about other gun control measures because republicans have taken control of the state Senate, putting republican Mike Padden in charge of the Judiciary Commitee.
“He’s from Spokane and he has an A-plus rating from the NRA,” said Fascitelli. “We may not even get a hearing.”
Washington CeaseFire thinks gun control will more likely be put to a vote of the people. “There’s a lot of people who are coming out of the woodwork on that with deep pockets and I think the chances of an initiative are at least 50-50 right now,” Fascitelli said. “I think we’re going to see an initiative.”
There’s been some talk of a bill in Olympia to allow teachers and other school personnel to carry firearms. Fascitelli calls that idiotic and says it’s “not going to happen.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.