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Dori Monson
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State Representative Mike Hope is proposing a bill that would require criminals with a record of gun crime to register on a list much like the sex offender registry. (MyNorthwest.com/File)

Proposed gun law targets offenders, not responsible gun owners

Dori is rarely optimistic about anything coming from Olympia, but one bill being proposed by State Representative Mike Hope is getting Dori excited: a proposed registry for violent offenders involved in gun crimes.

Mike came on The Dori Monson Show to explain a bill he says targets the real criminals, not responsible, law-abiding gun owners.

"The person has already had to have committed a violent felony with a firearm. And that's the type of person we'll be going after," said Mike.

Mike says the law requires these felons to register on a list much like the sex offender registry. If the person fails to register or fails to update their address, police officers can arrest them. That would give them probable cause to search the offender's residence and find any illegal guns they might have.

Similar programs have already been implemented in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York City. But this law would be the first state-wide program of its kind.

"What we're seeing with Baltimore is that there was a common denominator that, when you look at their numbers, sticks out," said Mike. "Ninety-six percent of all of the homicide suspects that have used a firearm had a prior firearm gun offense."

Mike cites statistics from New York and Baltimore that back up the effectiveness of the law in bringing down the murder rate. In 2007, a year after New York passed tougher laws on illegal guns, the murder rate went down 17 percent.

Representative Hope isn't just thinking from a policy-standpoint, but from a practical standpoint; Mike spends his time away from Olympia serving with the Seattle Police Department.

The registry, Mike says, will save officers time tracking down suspects when investigating violent crimes involving guns. The registry may even help increase officer safety, since an offender's status will pop up when officers look up a driver's license during traffic stops. The information could also be tied to a mapping database that officers can use when called to a residence.

And Mike is optimistic that the law will have an impact on the right demographic: irresponsible or illegal gun owners and gang members. He says the registry should also act as a strong deterrent to keep individuals on the list from re-offending if the stakes are high enough.

Dori loves the idea, since it targets the people who are getting guns illegally and are actually committing crimes - not responsible gun owners that are concerned with personal safety.

"Forget about these laws that criminalize everybody who is law abiding - or not," said Dori. "But a gun registry or database of people who have committed gun crimes? Why not? They violate the law, they lose their right."

Jillian Raftery, KIRO Radio Editor
Jillian Raftery is an afternoon editor at KIRO Radio. She loves the neighborly vibe of the Pacific Northwest and spends as much time as possible outdoors.
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