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Gun control debate heats up in Olympia as public comments on proposed bills

Several gun-related bills aim to ban high-capacity magazines and place more restrictions on firearms.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The battle over gun control continued in Olympia as the public testified before the Senate Law and Justice Committee on Monday.

Testimony focused on bills that would increase the punishment for gun theft or illegal firearm use, as well as those placing further restrictions on firearms. 

The subject matter of a bill that would ban high-capacity magazines has gained national attention. High-capacity magazines are capable of holding more than the standard number of rounds. The bill would make it illegal to manufacture or possess magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. 

RELATED: 10 bills to watch in the 2020 Washington Legislative session

Nationally, part of the argument against high capacity magazines focuses on mass shootings and the belief that fewer bullets could lower the death toll. 

Others have said a ban would not make a difference or stop criminals and that mass shootings continue to take place despite gun-related bans.

Another bill seeks to ban the sale of assault-style weapons and "large-capacity magazines."

During a break in testimony, those personally impacted by gun violence spoke out.

“Without assault weapons and high capacity magazines, I believe our daughter would be alive today,” said Jim Parsons, a father from Bainbridge Island whose daughter was killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017. 

Much like the setting on the national stage, groups in Olympia were divided on the issue. 

One of the most prominent voices against passing these types of laws was Washington Representative Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley). 

"We should never back down. We should never quit. We should never give in to those that want to destroy our Constitution,” Shea said.

RELATED: 'Never back down': Embattled lawmaker Rep. Matt Shea speaks at Olympia gun rally

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson previously noted that such bills would "combat mass shootings in Washington state. High-capacity magazines were used in two mass shootings in Washington in the last few years in Mukilteo and Burlington, he said. 

“If we do not take action, additional mass shootings will occur here, that is inevitable,” Ferguson previously said. 

Democrats are leading the charge for what they call “common sense” gun laws. Those Democrats have the majority in Olympia, but the question remains as to whether they will get the votes.

On Tuesday, the high capacity magazine and assault weapon ban will be heard in the House's Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee. It's possible that At least one of those bills could be voted on in Committee as early as this week. 

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