An AR-15. Courtesy photo

An AR-15. Courtesy photo

Mags, open carry at protests and AR-15s on Olympia’s agenda

Lawmakers are eyeing a number of bills which could change firearm regulations in the state.

A number of bills concerning firearms are being considered by the Legislature this year as lawmakers in Olympia decide whether to place restrictions on high-capacity magazines, semi-automatic rifles and the open carrying of guns in some public places.

Some of the bills have been proposed before, like banning the sale or transfer of high capacity magazines and semi-automatic rifles like AR-15s. Democratic lawmakers say there is renewed momentum after a year of gun violence at political rallies and the storming of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Violence has touched protests in Washington state too. Protesters were shot at two events in December at the State Capitol Campus in Olympia.

To address this, HB 1234 would ban carrying weapons at the State Capitol. Two other bills, SB 5038 and HB 1283, would prohibit open carry at or near public demonstrations and in a situation where a reasonable person would feel threatened, respectively.

Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-45th District) said these bills are ones she hopes pass this year. She cited the violence in Washington, D.C., but also an incident last year, where former State Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) and hundreds of people with guns showed up on the campus at the same time as an elementary school outing.

“This is really about using open carry as a mechanism to intimidate people who want to access democracy, and who want to have their voices heard,” Dhingra said.

She noted that only open carry would be prohibited at the Capitol grounds and demonstrations. People with concealed pistol licenses would still be able to carry weapons for personal protection as long as they’re out of sight.

Another bill includes SB 5078, which would outlaw selling or transferring high capacity magazines, but would still allow people who already have these devices to keep them. However, they would only be use them while at shooting ranges or hunting. It would restrict the number of rounds that new magazines could hold to only 10.

The last of the five bills is SB 5217, which would ban the sale of semi-automatic rifles like the popular AR-15. Similar to high-capacity magazines, they would only be allowed to be used at shooting ranges or for hunting.

State Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-48th District) is sponsoring the high capacity magazine, automatic rifle and open carry bills.

“I think people are watching what’s been happening with an armed insurrection at the nation’s Capitol,” she said. “I think that people have seen that we need to have more common sense gun legislation in place so that people can feel safe when they go out in public.”

The high-capacity magazine sales ban is the focus this year. It’s the preferred tool for mass shooters, she said.

Dave Workman, editor in chief of The Gun Mag, published by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, questioned whether this would effectively reduce gun violence. With perhaps millions of large magazines already circulating around the state, without unique serial numbers, he said he didn’t know how the state would prevent someone who wanted one from getting one if they were determined.

“Sometimes they do these things,” Workman said. “Lawmakers propose such legislation simply to create the impression that they’re doing something.”

High-capacity magazine bans have been proposed in recent Legislature sessions and have failed. Still, the bill is a priority for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, said Kristen Ellingboe, the organization’s communications manager.

While there are already many high-capacity magazines in circulation, she hopes that limiting future sales will help reduce gun violence.

“The precious seconds that it takes a shooter to reload can and often do make the difference between life and death,” she said.

SB 5078 outlines the lawmaker’s case against the magazines. It states that they have been used in all 10 of the deadliest mass shootings since 2009, and caused twice as many deaths and 14 times as many injuries. During the 2014 shooting at Seattle Pacific University, many potential victims were able to escape or disarm the shooter as the shooter reloaded.

“Such opportunities are necessarily reduced when large capacity magazines are used,” the bill states.

And for Ellingboe, the issue of police accountability is also tied to gun legislation. She noted there are several bills tied to policing that are moving through the Legislature. The presence of firearms makes it harder for law enforcement to do their job, but law enforcement must be able to ensure it’s accountable to communities, she said.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

In a zipper merge, cars continue in their lanes and then take turns at the point where the lanes meet. (Koenb via Wikimedia Commons)
Do Washington drivers need to learn the zipper merge?

Legislators propose requiring zipper merge instruction in drivers education and in license test.

t
Kent teen charged with murder of teen during gun exchange

Two Renton teens also charged in September shooting in Kirkland

A South King Fire & Rescue firefighter places a used test swab into a secure COVID test vial on Nov. 18, 2020, at a Federal Way testing site. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Masks are still king in combating new COVID strains

A top UW doctor talks new strains, masks and when normal could return.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Democrats look to allow noncitizens to serve on school boards

A Senate bill takes aim at a state law requiring anyone seeking elected office to be a citizen.

file photo
Kirkland looking for non-police members to their police use-of-force review group

The investigative team is mandated by the Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act of 2019.

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
State health leader: We have a plan, we don’t have the supply

Two months after the COVID vaccine landed in Washington, many still struggle to secure their shots.

File photo
How the pandemic and coronavirus variants can show us evolution in real time

Scientists say viruses reproduce and mutate at higher rates, creating viral variants.

Most Read