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Gun control bills clear hurdles in Olympia

(Ted S. Warren, Associated Press)

From a ban on so-called high capacity magazines to required training for concealed pistol license holders and more, several gun safety measures advanced in the House and Senate on Thursday.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were not shy about pointing to the shooting in Seattle Wednesday night that left a woman in her 40s dead and injured seven others to make their points during debate on bills such as SB 6077, which limits magazines to 10 rounds.

“Are the criminals that are going to engage in these violent acts going to obey a law like this? I think it’s highly unlikely,” said Republican Senator Mike Padden before pointing to the Seattle shooting.

“The preliminary reports of the violence in Seattle in the last day or so indicate gang member involvement. Apparently one suspect had 44 charges and 21 convictions on various crimes and yet he’s out there,” Padden said, stressing the need to closely examine our criminal justice system, especially as it pertains to guns.

Other Republicans on the Senate Law and Justice Committee said the focus needed to be on underlying issues such as mental health, not restricting the rights of responsible gun owners in ways they say will do nothing to save lives.

While Democratic Senator Patty Kuderer, the bill’s sponsor, agreed the mental health aspect was part of the conversation, she said it wasn’t the only issue.

“We’ve looked at other countries,” Kuderer said. “They have the same mental health problems that we have, at the same rate but they don’t have the same gun violence problems.”

“I think that mental health plays a piece, but I don’t think it’s the piece that you think it plays,” Kuderer added.

A similar debate came up before the committee voted on a bill to require firearms training for CPL holders. Both bills passed out of committee, along with a handful of other firearm-related bills.

On the House floor, Democrats also passed a bill that gives Washington State Patrol authority to destroy guns it confiscates from criminals rather than sell them.

The WSP says its worries about selling guns that end up being used in criminal shootings. But Republicans argued the money WSP gets for those guns could be used to fund important needs for the state such as clearing the rape kit backlog or filling the transportation funding hole that could potentially be left by I-976.

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