State lawmakers eye limits on open carry of guns during protests, at Capitol

State lawmakers eye limits on open carry of guns during protests, at Capitol

A gun in a holster. OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the open carry of weapons during social protests and demonstrations, a change that supporters say is needed to bolster public safety during rallies. But opponents of the measure are also using the public safety argument, saying weapons can keep people safe who are not protesting. Members of the state Senate Law and Justice Committee heard public testimony about the proposal on Tuesday. The panel is expected to consider amendments to the bill during an executive session Thursday. Seattle’s Police Department interim Chief Adrian Diaz testified in support of the proposal. "I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment right but the presence of firearms at large gatherings has created significant dangers,” Diaz said. Under Washington state law, it is legal to openly display a gun on one’s person when the weapon is clearly visible. “The purpose of openly carrying a weapon at a protest is to intimidate whoever is exercising their First Amendment rights,” said Democratic state Senator Patty Kuderer, of Bellevue, who introduced the legislation, adding that it is modeled after an Alabama law. “This isn’t a novel idea. Other states have already done this and a few of these laws have been in place for decades.” As currently written, the law would ban people from carrying a gun on their person or in their vehicle while participating in or within 1,000 feet of a demonstration. The bill defines a demonstration […]

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