NRA, parents debate WA gun control bill

A bill to change restrictions on certain guns brought passionate debate on Tuesday.

A bill to raise the purchase age from 18 to 21 for certain guns in Washington State made for an emotional public hearing at the Capitol Tuesday.

Senate Bill 6620 would give money for schools to enhance security and would establish a system for students to anonymously report suspicious activity.

But the element creating the most debate deals with new laws for long gun purchases.

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Under the proposal, the law would change for those purchasing semiautomatic rifles or shotguns with what are considered “tactical features.”

The legislation defines those as everything from detachable magazines, folding or telescoping stocks, and muzzle breaks.

Purchasers would have to be 21 to buy those weapons. The current age limit is 18.

Those buyers would also need to pass a state-background check.

Handgun laws in the state require background checks and are only open to those over 21.

Keely Hopkins, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, testified changing the purchasing law would only harm law-abiding gun owners.

“We need serious efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms,” said Hopkins.

Several parents who lost children or siblings in mass shootings testified in favor of the bill.

“We are long overdue for us to send a message to our children that they matter more to us than providing easy access to military-style weaponry,” said Paul Kramer, whose son Will survived a shooting at a 2016 Mukilteo party where three of his friends were killed.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, said he didn’t know if the bill will have enough votes to pass.

Following the public hearing, Frockt said he would make revisions to the bill to try and get more support for it.