Short: Rifle ban misses the mark, fails to address root causes of violence

Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, floor leader for the Senate Republican Caucus, released the following statement Saturday after passage in the Washington Senate of a bill banning rifles with magazines of ten rounds or more. House Bill 1240 passed the Senate 27-21, all Republicans voting no. The bill now returns to the House for concurrence on amendments.

HB 1240 is one of three major pieces of gun control legislation advancing in the 2023 legislative session. Awaiting action in the Senate is House Bill 1143, requiring gun purchasers to complete state-approved gun-safety courses. Awaiting action in the House is Senate Bill 5078, allowing the attorney general to sue gun manufacturers when weapons are used in crimes. Short said:

“All of us are appalled by tragedies like the one that played out in Nashville last week. Of course we are going to respond with emotion, because that is a measure of our humanity. But emotion should not be the only thing that guides us.

“We also need to ask ourselves, will the proposal before us do any good?

“The instrument is not the problem here. If we forbid the sale of modern sporting rifles in Washington state, there are any number of other weapons a potential assailant might choose.

“Instead we need to address the underlying causes. There are many in our communities who fall through the cracks into the abyss of drug abuse and mental illness. We refuse to intervene in the bedlam we see in our streets and we delude ourselves that this is somehow compassion. We have people in need of help whose problems go unrecognized and who resort to violent acts. Criminal activity is growing in our state as a result of the short-sighted soft-on-crime policies we have adopted over the last several years. In so many ways, we have weakened our social order, and when you put all of this together, violence is a result.

“It takes a desperate person to commit the acts we deplore today. It is that desperation we need to address, through better treatment for mental health and behavioral health, by enforcement of drug laws, by declaring that we will no longer tolerate the decline of our cities, by restoring public safety as a priority.

“All this bill would really do is take certain rifles off the market in Washington state. It would affect only responsible firearms owners who respect the law. It would do nothing to reduce the root causes of violent behavior. Guns make a convenient scapegoat for our much larger failures. We should more effort into addressing them than on the ownership of firearms.”