OLYMPIA − Calling mass shootings like the one in Roseburg, Oregon, a “national scourge,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he would look for ways to reduce gun violence.
Whether that will include proposing tough gun-control laws in the 2016 legislative session, however, remains to be seen.
“I want to look for any possible way to reduce gun violence,” Inslee said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. “I don’t have a specific proposal at this point.”
In the past, Inslee has supported bans on military-style semi-automatic rifles, which he and others call assault weapons, and tightening background checks for firearms sold at gun shows. Washington voters have already expanded background checks for many sales outside of retail stores, but gun control proposals have fared poorly in the Legislature.
“We should not be shy because these things may be controversial,” he said.
On other topics, Inslee said a special legislative group will meet again next week in search of ways to improve the state’s public schools. The state Supreme Court is holding the Legislature in contempt for failing to live up to its constitutional responsibility to pay for public education, and levied a fine of $100,000 a day.
The primary goal of the legislative group, which includes two members from each political party in each chamber, is improving education, Inslee said. If the group comes up with a plan the Legislature can pass that meets that goal, it will “have the added benefit of removing the contempt citation,” he added.
The Legislature returns in January and Inslee said he wouldn’t call a special session to deal with the court ruling without an agreement, adding “they’ve got some heavy work to do” before that could happen.
Asked when he would announce his decision on the Spokane Tribe’s proposal to build a casino near Airway Heights as part of an economic development project, Inslee would only say: “When we make that decision and at the right time. I can’t give you a specific date.”
The U.S. Department of Interior sent Inslee a letter on June 15 saying it had approved the overall plan, but the casino still needs gubernatorial approval. Under federal rules, Inslee has as long as 18 months to make that decision; if he takes the entire time allowed, the decision would come after the 2016 election, in which he is seeking a second term.
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