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WA House approves open carry ban at Capitol with 57-40 vote.



OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state House on Sunday approved a measure to prohibit the open carrying of guns and other weapons at the Capitol and surrounding grounds and at or near permitted public demonstrations statewide.


The measure passed the Democratic-led chamber on a 57-40 vote after nearly five hours of debate and heads back to the Senate, which will need to concur with changes made in the House before the bill heads to the governor. The Senate initially passed the measure last month on a 28-20 vote.


In addition to prohibiting openly carried weapons in the state Capitol or on the western part of the Capitol campus, the bill would bar 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.


Violation of the law would be a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Democratic Sen. Patty Kuderer, the bill’s sponsor, has said she modeled the measure on a similar law enacted in Alabama.


“Intimidation, harassment and fear is not a victimless crime,” said Rep. April Berg, D-Mill Creek, who cited an incident last May in Snohomish where people with weapons arrived downtown, saying they were there to protect businesses after a false rumor about a destructive protest that never occurred. “We cannot allow armed vigilantes to come into our beautiful downtowns, our beautiful streets, in the name of protecting something of which they do not value.”

Republicans argued that there are already laws on the books for harassment and other crimes related to guns.

Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, said there is a difference “between intimidating behaviors and someone exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.”