An exclusive KING 5 News poll suggests nearly half of voters think Washington gun laws are too lenient.
The poll found 45% of registered voters surveyed believe the state’s gun laws aren’t strict enough, 19% think the laws are too strict, and 27% think the laws are just about right. Another 9% aren’t sure.
However, voters were divided regionally. In the metro Seattle area, 53% of voters thought laws weren’t strict enough compared to 36% of western Washingtonians and 38% of eastern Washingtonians. Also, nearly half of urban and suburban voters felt the laws were too lenient compared to one-third of rural voters.
Women were slightly more likely than men (48% versus 42%) to believe Washington’s gun laws weren’t strict enough, but the difference was less pronounced than region.
SurveyUSA conducted the poll between Jan. 26 and Jan. 31, surveying 1,103 registered voters across Washington state. Of those voters, 41% were Democrats, 26% were Republicans, and 27% were Independents. Nearly half were from the Seattle metro area, a quarter were from eastern Washington, and a little more than a quarter were from western Washington, reflecting statewide population and demographics.
State Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, agreed the state needs stricter gun laws.
“We have a disconnect between where Washington law is right now and where people want to be to feel safe,” Pedersen said.
As for what could pass this year, Pedersen said there is support from lawmakers to allow the Washington State Patrol to destroy weapons it seizes. WSP currently can only store or resell the weapons.
“I think it’s crazy that we have guns that were used to commit crimes and our only choice is to sell them back on the streets,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen also expected passage of a bill that would allow WSP to conduct the state’s background checks of gun purchasers.
He said there would not be enough votes to ban the sale of some semi-automatic weapons, but said that issue could come up in the future.
Republican Michelle Caldier said there are enough gun laws and the state should focus on enforcing those already on the books.
“I think we need to allow our law enforcement to do their job,”Caldier, R-Port Orchard,said.
She said last month’s shooting in Seattle, involving suspects with dozens of arrests, proves that the justice system needs to improve.
“Unfortunately there’s instead just been a strong focus of, ‘Let’s just take certain guns away.’ I don’t think that’s going to address the problem,” Caldier said.