Editorial: Gun safety in Olympia’s sights
Universal background checks for all gun sales and safe gun-storage requirements represent legislation in the best interest of public safety.
Seattle Times Editorial
RESPONSIBLE, accountable gun ownership is set forth in two pieces of legislation before lawmakers in Olympia.
House Bill 1588 broadens the law to require a background check for all firearms sales in the state. Currently, the requirement only applies to sales and transfers by licensed firearms dealers.
House Bill 1676 creates a duty to safely store and secure firearms.A person would be guilty of reckless endangerment if anyone 16 or younger gains access to a loaded firearm without adult supervision.
Both measures are scheduled for a hearing Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee. They represent wholly reasonable, and belated, efforts to ensure public safety, and do nothing to impair the right to keep a loaded gun at home for self-defense.
A panel of physicians and educators put the topic in the proper context of a public-health issue in a recent forum at Town Hall Seattle.“More people in King County die from gun violence than motor vehicle crashes,” reads an opening sentence in a study titled “Gun Violence in King County,” drafted by Public Health — Seattle & King County.
The number of unintended, accidental deaths, suicides and homicides is harrowing, and the toll among younger residents and minorities throughout the state is alarming.
Washington has a lax system of background checks. House Bill 1588 changes that. No unlicensed person could sell a firearm to another unlicensed person without a background check — gun shows and all manner of private transactions.
House Bill 1676 not only requires safer storage, but also requires dealers to offer to sell or give a purchaser a locked box, a lock or other device to prevent a firearm from discharging.
A third bill, House Bill 1612, would require firearm offenders to register with the county sheriff. The bill then provides for the registry to be exempt from public inspection or copying under the public-records act. Curious and inappropriate.
America is awash in firearms, and the hazards are a threat to public health and safety. The injuries and deaths have profound social and economic impacts.
Efforts to broaden background checks and ensure safe storage are basic, practical responses to the hazards.