What the new arms deal could mean for Washington state?

A preliminary agreement on state legislation to respond to mass gun violence, announced Sunday by a bipartisan group of senators, could provide Washington state with money for mental health clinics and school security, though the modest gun restrictions would have little effect.

Many of those efforts have already been made in Washington over the years, leading the state to rank 10th in the nation for gun safety according to the Giffords Law Center for Preventing Gun Violence.

Washington Senator Patty Murray said she looks forward to pushing the deal despite its modest goals.

“This framework represents progress — and includes real measures that can help save lives,” Murray said in a statement. “It’s not all we need to end gun violence, so I will continue to fight and push for common sense gun safety reforms, such as universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.”

Washington state residents joined thousands across the country at the national March for Our Lives rallies on Saturday. Educators and supporters of new restrictions marched to the state Capitol in Olympia and smaller gatherings across the region, and the state urged lawmakers to enact stricter gun regulations.

sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, laid out some additional details of the new national response: on Twitter on Sunday. The legislation includes funding to pass and enforce red flag laws, or crisis intervention orders, that allow law enforcement to temporarily remove dangerous weapons from those that pose a danger to themselves or others. In addition, the new federal framework would ensure that no spouse or “serious dating partner” can buy a gun if they have been convicted of abusing their partner. The new agreement would also improve background checks for gun buyers under 21.

The new deal also aims to clarify the laws regarding who must register as an authorized arms dealer to ensure that all commercial sellers perform background checks.

In 2016, Washington became the fourth state to enact a red flag law that allows law enforcement officers and relatives or household members to petition a higher court for an extreme risk protection order. ERPOs, as they are also known, require the surrender of concealed gun licenses and empower the police to secure one’s guns. Respondents’ names are also added to the national no-sell list, which ensures they fail a background check to purchase a firearm for the same one-year period.

Washington background checks laws are even stricter after the adoption of Initiative 594 in 2014, which extends background checks in the state to private sales and transfers.

The new national agreement addresses the “loophole,” with the idea of ​​extending the restrictions to a “serious dating partner” and restricting a spouse from buying guns if it’s domestic violence convicted. is or was married to, cohabits with, has a child with, or is a parent or guardian of their victims.

In Washington, a 2019 measure requires police officers responding to domestic violence incidents to seize firearms and ammunition used or threatened to be used in the crime. They must also ask for firearms to be removed that an abuser has access to until a court hearing is held. A second measure issued that year allows judges to demand the surrender of firearms as part of protection orders related to domestic violence, sexual assault, extreme risk, anti-harassment or stalking.

Because the new federal agreement seeks to improve background checks on buyers under 21, current state laws prohibit young people under 21 from purchasing semi-automatic assault rifles, one of only six states to do so.

Additional recent developments in the state’s gun laws include new rules that come into effect next month. In late March, Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5078, which restricts the sale, import, distribution and manufacture of firearms magazines for semiautomatic rifles and many handguns containing more than 10 ammunition. The law, which does not prohibit the possession of such magazines, will come into effect on July 1.

Also on July 1, new restrictions will come into effect on untraceable and unregulated firearms, or ghost guns, and new restrictions prohibiting the open carrying of firearms and other weapons in local and regional government buildings in connection with local government meetings.

On Friday, local lawmakers, gun safety advocates, students and educators pushed for stricter gun laws to be passed as the state explored the possibility of banning assault weapons and requiring gun owners to receive training, license and register their firearms. At the time, Murray said a patchwork of state laws “isn’t going to make it.”

In addition to the Senate group’s proposed weapons measures, Murphy said it would provide “billions” in new funding for mental health and school safety, including building community mental health clinics across the country. Details were scarce and at this point it’s not clear how much of that money would come to Washington.

“Will this bill do everything we need to end the epidemic of gun violence in our country? No,” said Murphy in a tweet† “But it’s real, meaningful progress.”

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