Those Washington lawmakers who stood up to be counted for one gun-law reform this year deserve praise. They passed a statewide ban on the sale or manufacturer of bump stocks — the devices that allow a person to turn a semi-automatic firearm into one that fires like an automatic.
That’s the kind of firepower used by the Las Vegas shooter who killed 57 people and then himself in October. Passing the bump-stock legislation (Senate Bill 5992) was to some degree a no-brainer after the Nevada shooter’s slaughter. The U.S. Justice Department has also been considering such a ban nationally.
This kind of firepower clearly should be reserved for military use and does not belong in the private arsenals of our citizenry. It would be a great thing if U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions follows-through, and also if President Trump could follow-through on raising the age limit to buy semi-automatic guns to 21.
In South Sound, Republican Sens. Randi Becker and John Braun and Democrat Tim Sheldon voted against the bump stocks ban; Democrat Sam Hunt of Olympia voted in favor. In the House, Democratic Reps. Beth Doglio and Laurie Dolan of Olympia voted in favor; Republican Reps. Andrew Barkis, J.T. Wilcox, Dan Griffey, Drew MacEwen, Richard DeBolt and Ed Orcutt opposed the common-sense measure.
Despite that one step forward, our Legislature and Congress continue to fail our schools and communities. Stronger steps are needed to keep high-capacity firearms out of the hands of killers.
No other country has as many weapons or firepower in public circulation, and none experiences the mass-shooting sprees like the United States. The more guns there are, and the higher the firepower, the more deadlier shootings we’ll have. The need to drain the lethal swamp of firearms that floods our country should be obvious.
The Second Amendment is enshrined in the U.S. and Washington constitutions, and it is a backbone principle in our country. It dates to colonial times when a well-armed, regulated militia was needed in communities to defend against common enemies. But it doesn’t justify an overly armed populace.
Unfortunately, fear kept our Legislature from acting on incremental measures. One was a bill raising the minimum age for buying an assault-style rifle to 21, up from 18; it also required longer waiting periods for purchasers, similar to requirements for handgun sales.
Similarly, lawmakers did not act on House Bill 1483, a bipartisan bill that would let the Washington State Patrol destroy guns it seizes as part of criminal investigations. There is no sane reason to put confiscated firearms — often used in crimes or owned illegally — back into circulation.
Lately students caught in the crosshairs of campus shootings have displayed far deeper understanding than adults that our national gun love has a dark and dangerous side.
Walkouts by high school students across the country Wednesday were a testament to our society’s growing intolerance for the danger. Students’ fears were amplified last month by the slaughter of 17 students and educators at a Parkland, Florida, high school. The killer was a 19-year-old who wielded a semi-automatic rifle he could buy legally, though he could not buy beer.
Unfortunately, President Trump is advocating a simplistic plan to train and arm select teachers.
The Olympia School Board recently adopted a resolution opposing this kind of arming of its educators. That may make sense for Olympia, which is taking other steps to secure its school grounds against intruders. .
But just as some schools are not ideal places for a few well-trained and armed teachers or administrators, it is clear that some rural schools may find it appropriate. This is especially true for rural districts that have a few remote schools far away from police or sheriffs’ offices in the event a gun is taken inside and a shooter starts firing.
We encourage other South Sound school districts to have serious discussions about what is right for their schools.
Lawmakers — and voters — should learn from the lead taken by our young people. It is in everyone’s interest that these newly activist students coming of age get involved this fall and prod candidates for Legislature and Congress to debate ways to curb our national gun problem.
Reducing the numbers of guns and firepower in the hands of irresponsible people is a fair goal for our state and country. Putting reasonable limits on the size of ammunition purchases, the size of magazines and the age for such purchases should also be a priority.
Enough is enough.