State of Washington Democrats propose “overreaching” bill prohibiting self-defense weapons in public areas such as bus stops
01/23/2024 // Belle Carter // Views

Crime rates in Washington have been soaring and the state Democrats' solution to this problem is to strip away the rights of citizens to bear arms and prohibit them from performing self-defense in times of danger.

Senate Bill (SB) 5444, the bill concerning firearms in "sensitive places" that is sponsored by Washington State Senators Javier Valdez, Sam Hunt, Patty Kuderer, Joe Nguyen, Jamie Pedersen and Rebecca Saldaña, was first read in January 2023 and reintroduced back on Jan. 8.  As of Jan. 19, the proposed legislation has already been passed by the Senate Law and Justice Committee and referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

Valdez said that he introduced the bill because he wanted to continue the work in the legislature to keep communities as safe as possible and to reduce gun violence. "We've made progress over the years such as prohibiting weapons in schools, government buildings, airports, polling locations, [and] courthouses, but we know we have so much work to do," Valdez told committee members. "Our public needs to know that we are taking every step we can to keep them safe from gun violence."

The current law prohibits weapons in courtrooms, bars and other restricted areas. Now the bill adds several new categories of prohibited areas, such as public libraries, zoos, aquariums, parks, community centers and other public buildings. It also now aims to prohibit full-time mass transit users from carrying weapons, including legally purchased guns and knives.

According to renowned radio show host Jason Rantz, "SB 5444 isn't just an overreach; it's a direct attack on law-abiding citizens. And it disproportionately affects those demographics the Democrats always claim to champion. The irony is as thick as it is infuriating." Rantz further noted that Seattle mass transit is unsafe and soft-on-crime policies Democrats want to eliminate '’reasonable means of defending ourselves." It is such a wonder why these lawmakers routinely push legislation that makes it easier for criminals to suffer fewer consequences for their crimes. He added that western Washington saw a spate of high-profile violent crimes in 2023. Many of these occurred in places provided in the bill, robbing citizens of the ability to match force with assailants. (Related: NRA warns of ATF's gun control proposal, which unjustly criminalizes those selling firearms to family members or friends.)

Rants also reported on My Northwest that a homeless man was charged in the hammer attack against two random victims in their 60s back in September at a Sound Transit station. In another unprovoked July incident, a man stabbed a passenger 18 times at the light-rail train near Othello Station. A Sound Transit station in SODO in July also featured an attack when a man was bludgeoned in the head with a rock. And in a November stabbing at the Northgate station, a man was critically wounded. These, and many other attacks, prompted Sound Transit to hire more security.

Also in November, a 21-year-old man was murdered on the metro, shot dead as he was sleeping. That same month, a 64-year-old man was stabbed after getting off a Metro bus in Seattle. In the Parkland area of Seattle, two young men were shot dead last year at a bus stop across the street from an elementary school.

Violators of the newest proposal would be subject to a misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

County sheriff raises several concerns about the bill

According to reports, 17 people signed in to testify in opposition to the bill and nine people signed in to testify in support. However, more than 1,000 people signed in opposition to the legislation on Monday, but did not testify, while more than 800 people signed in to support the legislation, but did not testify.

Walla Walla County Sheriff Mark Crider is one of the individuals who testified against the legislation with several concerns. He said that the law would be nearly impossible to enforce and most of the prohibitions would affect places where firearms are already prohibited, such as courthouses. Crider also pointed out that the bill does not address those who are carrying lawfully concealed weapons, including those who are carrying under the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act and not carrying under Washington concealed carry laws. He added that the prohibition on knives is tricky too. "Being on the eastern portion of the state, almost everybody in my community carries a knife for daily use," Crider said.

Neal Black, a council member for the city of Kirkland was among those who were in favor. He said that one of his fundamental duties as a council member is to maintain a comprehensive system of public safety. He said he was appreciative of previous safety efforts by the Legislature, which allow him as a council member to respond when certain safety improvements are needed.

Check out to read more stories regarding Americans' constitutional right to to keep and bear arms.

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