I know this is short notice and perhaps not entirely on topic for the list, but if you can drop a note to Senate Education this evening or tomorrowabout thisit would be much appreciated.
FRP Alert: HB 3131 Hearing In Senate Wednesday
HB 3131, the bill that further clamps down on self-defense rights in school zones, has passed the House nearly unanimously, like HB 2268 did last year. It is now going to be heard in Senate Education on Wednesday morning at 8:00am.
The only three reps who voted against it this year were Jim Dunn, Ed Orcutt, and Jaime Herrera. Those three should be thanked for not following the crowd. Other republican reps should be informed that we're not pleased with this vote. It was right after the '94 sweep that republican majorities gave us gun-free school zones, and the Lautenburg amendment. This sort of vote will not engender the kind of restored trust that will be needed for them to have a chance of getting voted back in.
Last year we were able to stop 2268 in Senate Judiciary on a party line plus Jim Hargrove vote. This year however, 3131 is going to Senate Education where things won't be as easy.
To review, the bill does the following: 1. Raises the penalty for gun possession at a school to a felony, and 2. Includes tasers among the expanded list of prohibited weapons, removing the last viable self-defense option for adults. If the intent behind the first item is to be able to charge a student who illegally brings a gun to school with a felony, we have good news for them. It is already a felony for a minor to illegally carry a gun, all they have to do is use the law rather than ignoring it so they can demand more laws. This provision will therefore have little to no effect on minors, it will only impact adults, who might still be willing to risk a misdemeanor charge to protect others. The inclusion of Tasers as a prohibited weapon will likewise only impact adults, as Tasers are too expensive and heavily regulated for minors to acquire them, and there are currently no students being terrorized by other students with them. The bill amounts to another clampdown on self-defense rights at schools, in ways that impact adults when this bill is supposed to be aimed at curbing weapon possession by students. If enacted, the bill will further insure that attacks on schools go exactly as planned.
The Senate Education chair is Rosemary McAuliffe, who unilaterally killed the School Protection Act (armed teachers)bill in 2002. In 2003, shortly afterward, there was a suicide-by-cop attempt at a Spokane high school. While no one was killed there, the fact that the armed student could not be stoppedfrom carrying out his intentled to a string of copycat shootings, in which two students were killed in Minnesota. A little reminder of that wouldn't hurt.
The list of committee email addresses is below. Please write to them this evening if you possibly can.
Your friendly FRP lobbyist
Yes, this bill made it out of House Judiciary and a full House vote. Now we have to contend with it in the Senate. The good news is that this is the only bad bill left that has to be killed this year, but it'll have to happen in committee because stopping it in a full Senate vote isn't likely.
I've sent numerous messages about my opposition to this bill, and there was a previous thread started on it. You make the same points that I made.
I sent proposed amendments to Senators Roach and Carrell that would make it at least semi-palatable. I included an affirmative defense provision for weapons that were otherwise legally possessed, and re-wrote the section on firearm possession to make it clear that a student in possession of a handgun could be charged under 9.41. Unfortunately, I have not received a response from those senators.
This is a knee-jerk response, as usual, to school violence. It will unfortunately have no positive impact, and as you pointed out will mostly affect adults.
Here is the language of the amendment I proposed, as it would appear in the bill. Hope it makes sense.
I fear this will go through this year unless the senate receives many, many, messages of opposition. 3131 has been trimmed down from 2268, and there hasn't been much opposition.
Kevin, one other problem with the bill is that it seems to violate the 14th Amendment, in that it imposes two different penalties for similar actions, depending on whether the person is a student or non-student. This point was made in the house judiciary hearing, but wasn't addressed. The proposed language in the attached amendment addresses the 14th Amendment issue, I believe.
Thanks for writing in about this everyone.The billwould be a knee-jerk response, except that they know what they're really doing. Pat Lantz and crowd don't believe we have a right of self-protection, they believe government has, or should have, exclusive right to exercise force, and citizens (or schoolkids) safety is a secondary concern. Sometimes I wish we could ship them off to Britain where they belong.
This might be long, but it's my entire written testimony on the bill. Feel free to use these points contained. There's typically some time after a hearing before a vote, so there's still time.
Dear Members of the Senate Education Committee,
Please accept this written testimony in opposition to HB 3131, and recommending amendments.
The bill being considered will do far more to harm school security than to help it. Here is a list of what the bill does, and what?s wrong with it:
1. The bill raises the penalty for simple gun possession on school grounds from a gross misdemeanor to a felony, unless the defendant is a student who possessed the gun accidentally with no ill intent, in which case it remains a gross misdemeanor.
Existing law already makes illegal gun possession by a minor a Class C felony, whether at school or not, and nothing in RCW 9.41.280 relieves a minor of that penalty, it only adds a second gross misdemeanor penalty for possession on school grounds. This portion will therefore only impact adults who might be willing to risk a misdemeanor charge to protect people, making them felons without regard to intent.
People possess guns and other weapons for protection, especially in places where threats exist and alternative armed security is not only not present, but outlawed. Possession of a weapon for protection under such circumstances should not be a crime, let alone a felony. Under this section of the bill, Urban League director James Kelley would be a felon for life for the incident in which he carried a gun to Rainier Beach High School, even though he did so rightly because people were present at the school who were threatening his life.
There is only one valid kind of place for a gun prohibition, and that is a secure building with metal detectors, gun lockers, and a substantial armed security presence. Schools have none of these, and the existing and proposed expanded self-defense prohibitions amount to a death sentence to all who come under attack.
Recommendation: The portion raising the penalty for simple gun possession on school property to a felony should be deleted. Illegal gun possession by minors is already a felony and there is no cause to target adults with a bill aimed at curbing weapon possession by students.
2. The portion that enumerates more types of banned street weapons is not entirely without merit. However, if schools really want students to be content with having no defense of any kind, the state needs to create an exemption in the ?gun free school zone? law for school staff, and restore the right of school staff to protect students.
I don?t advocate that K-12 students should be carrying weapons to school. However, the state needs to realize that with real protection for students mostly outlawed, and threats from bullies and gangbangers abounding, they are frequently left with no alternative but to take their protection into their own hands.
Recommendation: The bill should take into account the intent of weapon possession when it can be determined, and whether the intent was to harm or threaten others, or to protect the student or others at the school, and allow court discretion in the seriousness of the charge accordingly.
3. The bill also bans Tasers and stun guns on school property. This portion of the bill serves only to take away one of the last remaining, and by far the most harmless, of self-defense options for adults on school property. Stun guns are sometimes useful as a deterrent, but far too ineffective to use as an offensive weapon. Tasers are beyond the price reach of juveniles, and are also registered and heavily regulated by the manufacturer. And by the way, a Taser with a twenty-foot range might have saved the student who was killed in a Tacoma high school, as that?s how far away the principal was standing as he watched helplessly.
If kids are being terrorized with Tasers or stunguns in schools, it has yet to make the news. Nonetheless, proponents of this bill seem to be intent that no person shall ever protect themselves or others in any way.
From the standpoint of school safety, it was the creation of the "Gun Free School Zone" law that cleared the way for school shootings and attacks to become as widespread as they are today. School kids are smarter than many adults give them credit for, and they know how useless that law is. Another clampdown on the self-defense rights sends the wrong message to kids, that their protection is of no value compared to strict adherence to the doctrine that preparation for defense against violence is always bad, no matter what kind of danger might come walking into the school.
Recommendation: The portion banning possession of Tasers or Stun Guns should be amended so it does not apply to adults who may legally possess them.
In 2002, my organization worked with Harold Hochstatter promoting a bill to allow teachers to protect students with handguns. This bill was unilaterally killed by the chair of the Senate committee it was sent to. *That's you Rosie...* Then in 2003, there was a suicide-by-cop attempt at a Spokane high school. While no one was killed there, the fact that the student couldn't be stopped from carrying out his intent set off a chain of copycat shootings, in which two students were killed in Minnesota. Those are two more students who would be alive if schools in Washington were properly protected, the opportunity for which was killed the year before.
In fact, the nation has much to be angry with Washington over, as we are a bellwether state when it comes to mass shootings. Along with the Spokane incident, Virginia Tech was in part a copycat response to the murder of Rebecca Griego at the UW, and the following news and commentary about the defenseless nature of campuses. Also, the entire current age of school shootings first began right here, in Moses Lake.
Who was it who said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result?
In its current form, this bill will further insure that future attacks on schools in this state go exactly as planned, and that more will die in the subsequent copycat shootings. Please oppose this bill unless the above-recommended amendments are adopted. Also, please consider measures that will provide more substantial protection to K-12 students from all types of threats.. For a full report with information about school safety and the active shooter threat, please see the full FRP report at:
There's a few little issues with the langage of the amendments you wrote. SectionB amounts to a complete repeal of the gun-free-zone law as it applies to CPL holders. Which absolutely needs to be done, but needs to be done as a repeal, orcreation of an exemption for CPL holders,not a creation ofan affirmative defense. And, the most we can hope to do with this anti-gun bill, other than killing it,is get the bad parts removed.
Section C is redundant in that it only repeats existing law. It's possible that some kind of resolutionclarifying the intent of the existing law could be passed, spelling it out to prosecutors what they're supposed to be doing,but the existing law is clear as can be (not that I'd mind seeing that go away either.)
Writing legislation is tricky, but then you don't have to get it exactly right the first time either. Anything that a legislator decides to pursue will go to the Code Revisors's office to be drafted up with the right language. Even then you have to keep an eye on them so they don't butcher it too badly...
Paragraph (c) actually doesn't repeat the current law. Minors refers to all persons under the age of 21. Currently, a person between 18 and 21 who carries a handgun is only guilty of a misdemeanor, unless they are in a restricted area such as a school, in which case it is a gross misdemeanor. The prosecutors are strugging with the problem of gang-bangers between 18 and 21 on school grounds and not being able to prosecute for a felony -- I purposely wrote that paragraph to address thier need.
The affirmative defense is a means of preventing otherwise law-abiding citizens from being charged if they are on school grounds in possession of a firearm. So, it protects the person who steps out of their vehicle with a concealed weapon, or if they leave a weapon in a vehicle but visible, or if they have a Taser in their purse, etc. Alternately, a person in possession of a prohibited weapon and for example trespassing, or engaged in any other criminal activity, can also be charged with the firearms violation.
The education committee has essentially said they don't want to deal with it, and they've tossed it back over to Judiciary. Since the second-chamber cutoff is tomorrow on Friday, and there is a five day notice requirement for public hearings (which is sometimes even observed), it doesn't look likely for it getting passed out of both Judiciary and the full Senate. Nothing is ever certain so we'll keep an eye on it, but we may have squeaked through another year at this point. Let's keep our letters and written testimony handy just in case though.