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 Washington House passed SB 5038, which would prohibit the open carry of firearms on Capitol grounds and at permitted protests. The bill now moves to the Governor Inslee’s desk.
“We already know how dangerous it can be to allow guns and armed intimidation at the Capitol and in government buildings,” said Talia Levine, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Washington. “This bill is another important step to protecting our democracy. We look forward to celebrating when Governor Inslee signs this critical bill.”
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 on Capitol 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.
To speak with a policy expert or Washington Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action volunteers, please do not hesitate to reach out.