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Thursday, April 18, 2013 - Page updated at 09:00 p.m.

Gun-control bill fails to make legislative deadline

By Brian M. Rosenthal
Seattle Times Olympia Bureau

OLYMPIA — Democrats fumed Wednesday after the Republican-run state Senate declined to vote on a bipartisan gun-control bill before a key legislative deadline.

State Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, who sponsored the bill, said he and others were “seething with anger” after hearing the measure would not get a vote before a 5 p.m. deadline for nonbudget-related bills, likely ending its chances this session.

House Bill 1840 would require some gun owners with a restraining or protective order against them to temporarily surrender their guns while the order is in effect. Supporters see that as a protection for domestic-violence victims; opponents see it as intrusive and potentially unconstitutional.

The measure was gun-control advocates’ top priority after a string of high-profile defeats this session, including the failure of an effort to expand background checks for firearms sales.

The restraining-order bill passed 61-37 in the House and 5-0 in the Senate Law & Justice Committee after senators included an amendment to add more judicial oversight.

But once it got to the full Senate, several members expressed concern “that an individual who has not committed a crime would lose their guns,” said Sen. Mike Padden, a Spokane Valley Republican who chairs the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

Padden said he supported the bill, but “I don’t make all these decisions.”

Goodman said, “I guess these senators don’t mind guns remaining in the hands of domestic abusers, and they’re going to have to answer for that.”

Senate Democrats considered a procedural move to bring the measure to the floor but decided against it.

The Senate did pass one gun-control bill Wednesday — House Bill 1612, which would require offenders convicted of firearms-related felonies to register with law enforcement. The database of firearms felons would be maintained by the Washington State Patrol.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Mike Hope, of Lake Stevens, passed 41-7. It had passed the House 85-10, but now must go back there for approval of a technical change before going to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.

The apparent death of the restraining-order bill came on the same day an effort in the U.S. Senate to expand background checks nationally failed. (Story, Page One)

Washington state gun-control advocates described the failures as evidence that a gun-control ballot initiative is needed.

“It’s time for the people to lead,” said Zach Silk, campaign manager for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, in an email about the U.S. Senate vote.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 360-236-8267

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