The Washington chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, the grassroots networks of Everytown for Gun Safety, today released the following statements after the Senate Law and Justice Committee passed SB 5038, which would prohibit the open carry of firearms on the Capitol grounds and at permitted protests. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for a vote.
“We already know what happens when we allow extremists to openly carry guns at the capitol. It’s devastating,” said Kathleen Reynolds, a volunteer leader with the Washington chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This bill is an important first step for gun safety in Washington. We will continue fighting for this vital bill until it is at the desk of Governor Inslee.”
“Gun violence hasn’t slowed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Julia Cappio, a volunteer with Washington Students Demand Action. “After a horrific year of gun violence in our cities and armed intimidation at the capitol, it is a relief to see lawmakers prioritizing a bill that would make our communities safer.”
Open carry, which allows for carrying firearms visibly in public, is a dangerous policy. It is exploited by white supremacists and opposed by law enforcement and the public. Research shows that open carry makes us less safe: visible guns have been found to make people more aggressive; therefore open carry makes it more likely that disagreements will turn into violent conflicts.
The open carry of loaded firearms during any demonstration increases the likelihood that such an event will escalate into a dangerous or deadly situation. Members of hate groups regularly openly carry guns in a show of intimidation. Last year, 250 self-proclaimed militia-men and armed vigilantes showed up at the Washington statehouse to intimidate lawmakers because open carry of loaded firearms at demonstrations is perfectly legal.
Recently, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action unveiled a new policy plan designed to eliminate armed intimidation from politics by prohibiting guns at Capitol buildings and grounds, sensitive government facilities, polling locations, vote counting locations, and protests on public property. These recommendations, which are laid out in full here, come as an estimated two-thirds of Americans are concerned about violent domestic extremism after a year of armed extremists killing people, intimidating peaceful protestors, storming Capitol buildings, and –– most recently –– attempting an armed coup at the behest of President Donald Trump and his Congressional allies.
More information about open carry legislation is here. Additional information on gun violence in Washington is available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator — which shows how Washington’s gun laws compare to those of other states — is available here.