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Washington Senate approves schools’ use of NRA gun safety materials

OLYMPIA – A resolution encouraging schools to use a firearms safety program for kids briefly ignited the gun-control debate in the state Senate on Friday.

The resolution was in support of the cartoon-motif Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, which is sponsored by the National Rifle Association and offered free to schools. It calls for the state’s schools, preschools, early-learning centers and licensed day care facilities to consider using the program but doesn’t require them to do so.

Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, objected, saying the program isn’t just about gun safety, “it’s about the NRA.” That organization has been working to block all gun-control legislation this session, Kline said, from major proposals like universal background checks to small ones like one he sponsored to allow a person in mental distress to voluntarily turn a gun over to police for 30 days for safekeeping. The majority coalition that runs the Senate has been “a bit too obedient” to the NRA, he contended.

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said she couldn’t believe anyone would vote against a child-safety program, regardless of its source.

“Does Ceasefire have a program to help teach children how to be safe?” Roach asked, mentioning a prominent gun-control group. “If you’re not in favor of a program to help save children’s lives, vote no.”

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, the sponsor of the resolution, agreed the issue was about gun safety, adding that none of the Eddie Eagle material for children mentions the NRA. “I am not an advocate for an organization that makes excuses for assault weapons manufacturers.”

After the resolution passed 40-8, Chase issued a statement that it shouldn’t be used as proof the Senate has done anything to curb gun violence. “A sensible approach” on that topic would include universal background checks and an assault weapon ban, she said.



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