Election offices and school board meetings could become weapons-free zones in Washington

Election offices and school board meetings could become weapons-free zones in Washington

Guns and other weapons would be banned from election-related locations and at school board meetings in Washington under a pair of proposals that received a public hearing in the Democratically-controlled state Legislature on Wednesday. In addition, people would be prohibited from openly carrying firearms at local government meetings — such as meetings of city councils. Violations would be gross misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $5,000. These proposals to address what proponents termed “armed intimidation” come amid heightened tensions — and even violent clashes — over election outcomes, the public health response to COVID-19 and how public schools teach the history of racism in the United States. The bills also build upon a law passed last year that banned the open carry of weapons at the state Capitol and at permitted demonstrations statewide. “When our ballots and elections workers are under threat, our democracy isn’t safe,” said Democratic state Rep. April Berg in testimony before the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee regarding her bill to ban weapons from ballot counting centers and other election-related facilities . A law passed last year banned the open carry of firearms at the Washington state Capitol and at demonstrations anywhere in the state. Now, state lawmakers are considering restrictions on guns at school board and local government meetings, as well as at election-related locations. Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network Berg recounted a 2020 election recount in Snohomish County where she said her husband witnessed […]

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