Two Evergreen State Democrats have prefiled legislation in Olympia that would ban the open carry of firearms at any demonstration held in a public place, including the Capitol grounds.
Senate Bill 5038 is sponsored by Senators Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) and Mona Das (D-Kent). Both districts are in the state’s liberal King County.
According to the Tacoma News Tribune, “The bill does not apply to those who conceal carry their weapons, as long as they have active permits.”
Kuderer told reporters open carry at such demonstrations or rallies is not for personal protection but to intimidate other people. In recent years during gun rights rallies on the Capitol steps, many in attendance have openly carried sidearms or rifles including bolt-actions and semi-automatic modern sporting rifles.
The legislation is likely to gain traction in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 demonstration in Washington, D.C. by supporters of President Donald Trump that led to a mob invading the U.S. Capitol building. One woman from San Diego, Calif., was fatally shot and three other people died as a result of medical emergencies.
Syndicated Northwest talk host Lars Larson wrote about the massive demonstration noting, “I spent most of last year condemning the mob violence in American cities, including notably Portland and Seattle. I didn’t support it when Antifa and Black Lives Matter wrecked cities. And I don’t endorse it when advocates for President Trump do it.”
What happened in “the other Washington” might be considered exploitation of a deadly tragedy in the nation’s capital to push a gun control agenda in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s what the language of SB 5038 says, in part:
“Unless exempted in (c) of this subsection, it is unlawful for any person to knowingly open carry a firearm or any weapon as described in this chapter while participating in or attending any demonstration being held at a public place. This subsection (2)(a) applies whether the person carries the weapon on his or her person or in a vehicle. 1(b) It is unlawful for any person to knowingly open carry a firearm or any weapon within 1,000 feet of a demonstration at a public place after a duly authorized state or local law enforcement officer advises the person of the demonstration and directs the person to leave until he or she no longer possesses or controls a weapon. This subsection (2)(b) does not apply to any person possessing or controlling any weapon inside a private dwelling, building, or structure.
“Public place” means any site accessible to the general public for business, entertainment, or other lawful purpose. A “public place” includes, but is not limited to, the front, immediate area, or parking lot of any store, shop, restaurant, tavern, shopping center, or other place of business; any public building, its grounds, or surrounding area; or any public parking lot, street, right-of-way, sidewalk, public park, or other public grounds.”
A proposed new section of the state law deals specifically with carry at the Capitol or other places during legislative hearings:
“Unless exempt under subsection (2) of this section, it is unlawful for any person to knowingly open carry a firearm or other weapon described in this chapter on the state capitol grounds, in any building on the state capitol grounds, in any state legislative office, or at any location of a public legislative hearing or meeting during the hearing or meeting.”
Whether this legislation would collide with Washington State’s right to bear arms constitutional provision remains to be determined. Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington Constitution, adopted Nov. 11, 1889, reads:
“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”
When Arizona achieved statehood in 1912, its constitutional framers adopted the same language, word-for-word.