OLYMPIA – The mass shootings in Virginia are unlikely to revive Olympia’s only major attempt at gun control legislation this year, lawmakers said Monday.
This winter, 30 lawmakers backed a proposal to require all gun-show firearms sellers to do the same background checks done by gun stores and some gun-show dealers. Hundreds of gun owners turned out at the Capitol in protest, and the idea quickly faltered.
“The tragedy in Virginia reinforces the need to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia. “I’m just heartsick.”
But he said it’s highly unlikely that the so-called “gun show loophole” bills, SB 5197 and HB 1026, will be revisited this year.
Williams’ House bill didn’t even get a hearing.
The Senate gave a hearing to the version introduced by Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina. But it was quickly tabled in February after gun owners filled a large hearing room and two overflow rooms. They said there’s little evidence that criminals are getting guns at shows, and that the bill was a solution in search of a problem.
National Rifle Association lobbyist Brian Judy said at the time that the proposal was an attempt to “abolish privacy” about who owns guns.
“History has shown what follows: It’s firearm confiscation,” Judy said.
Eight senators signed on to the bill, as did 22 House members – a total of about one-fifth of the 147 lawmakers and far short of the numbers required to pass it.
“There’s really not much appetite for bucking the gun lobby,” said Williams, who is a gun owner himself. “I’m all for Second Amendment rights, but criminals don’t have Second Amendment rights.”
The NRA had little to say Monday afternoon about the Virginia shootings.
“The National Rifle Association joins the entire country in expressing our deepest condolences to the families of Virginia Tech University and everyone else affected by this horrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families,” spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said in a written statement, declining further comment.
Other firearms-related legislation in Olympia this year:
“HB 2168: Would have required the state to offer school districts a firearms accident-prevention curriculum for K-12 students, starting in 2009. Bill status: dead.
“SB 5791: To create an elective hunter and firearm safety course for students. Bill status: dead.
“SB 5516: Clarifying that government cannot seize a firearm during an emergency or disaster unless a person is unlawfully carrying the gun or it is seized as evidence. (HB 1633 is similar.) Bill status: dead.
“SB 5465: Clarifying the process by which people charged with a crime can regain the right to own firearms. Bill status: dead.
“HB 1014: Expanding the crime of reckless endangerment to include storing a loaded gun where a child can and does get it. Violators would be fined $50. Bill status: dead.