The 2019 legislative session wrapped up several weeks ago after a busy and productive 105 days in Olympia. We finished a “long” session on time for the first time in a decade. With Democrats in control of the Legislature for the second year, we made remarkable progress on many fronts, including groundbreaking legislation addressing climate change and the nation’s first public long-term care benefit. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sending newsletters focused on specific issues the legislature addressed this session. This first newsletter will detail the progress we have made together to reduce gun violence in our state.
Reducing gun violence in our community is one of my primary objectives as chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. After decades of inaction, the tide is turning in favor of common-sense gun safety measures. Washington voters are responsible for much of the progress, passing statewide ballot measures to extend background checks to private sales and allowing family members to seek court orders to keep guns away from those who are at risk of hurting themselves or others.
In 2018, the legislature banned bump stocks, added domestic violence harassment to the list of conditions that prevent people from buying a firearm, and adopted a first-in-nation measure enabling people struggling with mental illness to place themselves on a firearms do-not-purchase list. The voters capped 2018 by passing an ambitious ballot measure increasing the purchase age and requiring enhanced background checks for semi-automatic weapons, as well as requiring safe storage of all firearms.
In 2019, the legislature passed ten additional firearms safety bills to save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to themselves or others. These included:
- SB 5181, which prohibits possession of a firearm for six months by someone placed in involuntary treatment for a 72-hour period. That individual may petition the court after six months to regain access to his or her firearms.
- HB 1225, which facilitates the removal of firearms after reported incidents of domestic violence;
- SB 5205, which prohibits possession of a firearm by someone found by a court to be incompetent to stand trial and who has a history of violent acts.
- SB 5027, which improves the state’s extreme risk protection order law, passed by voters in 2016. The bill clarifies the law’s applicability to minors and adds a prior conviction for a hate crime to the list of factors the court must consider when determining whether to issue an extreme risk protection order.
- HB 1739, which prohibits the manufacture, sale, or possession of undetectable firearms, such as 3D printed firearms. These weapons would not be detected by airport or courthouse screeners and so present a giant public safety risk.
Over 2,000 people signed in to express their views on these measures in the Senate Law & Justice Committee. The passion and dedication of community advocates helped us to pass all of these new laws, which should reduce injuries and deaths of our friends and neighbors.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns.
Senator Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District