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Gun control issue prominent in King County politics

In 2014, Washington voters passed I-594 requiring background checks for gun sales. (AP)

Gun control in Washington state could depend on who gets elected to the Senate in the 45th Legislative District.

RELATED: Balance of power in Olympia at stake

The latest mass shootings, including the massacre at a Texas church over the weekend, is sure to lead to a renewed push for restrictions on guns.

Last session, Republicans in control of the state Senate didn’t allow hearings on gun safety legislation. But, if Manka Dhingra wins the seat in the 45th and Democrats take control, she promises there will be hearings and a vote on gun control.

“Here, at least, we will have bills that have a hearing,” she said. “People will have the opportunity to vote.”

Her opponent, Republican Jinyoung Englund, says she’s in support of enhanced background checks. She says she’ll work with both sides to pass gun-safety legislation that makes sense.

“I am in support of working together with Second Amendment supporters and victims of gun violence and gun-safety advocates,” Englund said.

The candidates and other groups are spending about $9 million in the fight over who will control the state Senate.

King County gun control

The King County council opted Tuesday to invest more than half a million dollars to help local officers deal with gun violence. The council voted to hire new prosecutors and deputies to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers.

“We have an epidemic of gun violence in our country,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “Over 30,000 Americans are gunned down in our streets, victims of gun violence, every year in our country. King County, local government, is stepping up to do what we can.”

It’s part of an initiative passed by voters last year, but the county council says more work needs to be done. McDermott says the council is helping to stop the gun violence epidemic, but he is quick to point out that the federal government needs to do their part and implement background checks on gun sales around the country.

“What we need is for our federal government, for Congress, to take the action needed to implement background checks for all gun sales in our country,” McDermott said. “We have them for Washington, but the rest of the country is at risk and people are at risk from people coming in from out-of-state.”

“We need to ban assault weapons,” he added. “AR-15 assault weapons were once banned. They are not hunting rifles. They are designed to kill a large number of people in a short period of time. They don’t belong on our streets.”

The council is also investing an additional $100,000 to promote firearm injury prevention around the county.

KIRO 7 contributed to this story.

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