Senate committee approves open carry ban at Capitol, rallies

OLYMPIA — A Senate committee on Thursday approved a measure that would ban the open carry of guns and other weapons on the Capitol campus and at or near any permitted public demonstration across Washington state. The measure passed the Senate Law and Justice committee on a 5-4 party line vote and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, the last stop before it is up for a vote by the full Senate. The bill would prohibit people from carrying weapons, either on their person or in their vehicle, while attending a permitted demonstration at a public place or while being within 250 feet of a permitted demonstration. The initial bill had the ban expand to within 1,000 feet of a demonstration, but the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Patty Kuderer, offered an amendment before the vote that reduced the buffer zone. Under the amended language, protests that don’t have a permit are not covered by the ban. It also prohibits openly carried weapons in the state Capitol or on the Capitol’s grounds. Violation of the law would be a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of as much as $5,000, or both. Kuderer said she modeled it on a similar law enacted in Alabama. “The idea is that when you open carry at a protest you’re doing that with the intent to intimidate those who are there,” Kuderer said before the committee vote. “Our communities and the public at large has resoundingly […]

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