Firearm Laws – Should they be Stricter?

The shootings of three children over the past month have gun-safety advocates demanding tougher firearms laws in Washington. But on the opposite side of the bench, gun-rights supporters say no law can prevent the mistakes that led to the shootings of the children, two of which were killed, the other of which was left with serious injuries.

State Senator Adam Kline said the shootings highlight the need for clear criminal penalties for adults who leave loaded firearms in locations accessible to children under the age of 12. Senator Kline said he is considering reintroducing a bill during the upcoming special legislative session to clarify that the unsafe storage of firearms around children constitutes reckless endangerment, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a 364 days in jail and a fine of $5,000. The measure didn’t pass out of committee during the last session. Senator Kline did acknowledge that even with a passage of his proposed bill that “no law prevents all crime” but said he believes the change in law “would make people more conscious of their actions” because the law would clearly state that leaving guns in places accessed by children is a criminal act with punitive measures.

Second Amendment supporters and gun enthusiasts believe that guns aren’t the problem and that the real problem is “fundamental firearms safety mistakes”; fundamental firearms safety mistakes were made in the Tacoma and Stanwood shootings. What is really needed is gun possession and use education. “We can discuss all sort of firearms safety mandates, but that’s not going to make any difference and bring these children back,” Dave Workman, senior editor at Bellevue-based Gun Week Magazine and spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation said Wednesday. “I’m not sure that anything could have prevented either incident, except a little common sense.” Mr. Workman and many gun-rights advocates oppose Kline’s legislative proposal, saying the current reckless-endangerment law goes far enough.

Approximately 30 states currently have gun-safety laws, including requirements for trigger locks, designed to protect children. Washington is not among them. Washington state lawmakers, however, did recently consider a measure that would have required additional testing of gun locks and safes before distribution of the equipment to law-enforcement officers for home use. Opposition to the bill mainly focused on the cost of providing safety devices to hundreds of fish-and-wildlife volunteers and hunting-safety instructors. The bill floundered in the House as lawmakers turned their focus to a separate, unrelated topic – the state budget.

What do you think? Should law makers institute stricter firearm laws in Washington State? Is there a happy medium between gun opponents and gun enthusiast positions?

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