UPDATE AGAIN: ESSB 5038 is being heard by the House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee on 3/16. PLEASE SIGN IN TO TESTIFY OR LEAVE TESTIMONY! Use this Easy Action of the Day to take action: https://wacivilrights.org/2021/03/11/eaod-17-sign-in-against-essb-5038-open-carry-ban-before-3-16/

URGENT: ESSB 5038–In the House

SB 5038, entitled, “Prohibiting the open carry of certain weapons at public demonstrations and the state capitol”, bill is an assault on state pre-emption and will be a nightmare for everyone involved. And it will have absolutely zero impact on public safety.

This bill is very dangerous and because of ridiculous actions at the capitol last year and the governor’s mansion earlier this year, is perhaps the most likely to pass the legislature.

We MUST all band together and stop this bill!

Whether you open carry or not, we CANNOT let the anti-gunners take away yet more of our rights, one little nibble at a time. It is perfectly legal to open carry in WA, but if they have their way, any ONE person could stage a protest near you or claim they’re afraid of you and boom-you are arrested and charged with either a felony or gross misdemeanor.

Comment below your talking points as well and we’ll crowdsource the best!

Both of these bills directly mirror the racism and classism of the Mulford Act that banned the open carry of firearms to impede and silence black civil rights protesters and activists in California.

Below, find talking points against bothSB 5038 (and below that, 1283, which failed to pass out of committee on 3/9) and TAKE ACTION!

A couple of comments:

This bill has been amended. This will do the following:

  1. Prohibit open carry firearm or weapon at any permitted demonstration, on person or in a vehicle
  2. Prohibit open carry firearm or weapon within 250 ft of a permitted demonstration after a LEO directs you to leave
    1. Doesn’t apply if you are on private property you own (but not leased, and not if you’re not the actual lease-holder)
  3. Exempts federal, state, local LEO, and Federal/WA armed forces
  4. Permitted demonstration = permit issued by federal agency, state agency, or local government OR 15 people gathered for a single event, which has been declared as permitted by law enforcement of the local govt
  5. Public place = Any site accessible to the public for business, entertainment, or another lawful purpose (basically anywhere up to the door of any business), parking lot, street, sidewalk, park or other public grounds
  6. And includes all the areas of the west state capitol campus grounds, any buildings on the state capitol grounds, in any state legislative office, or any location of a public legislative hearing or meeting during the hearing or meeting
    1. Federal/state/local LEO exempted, as are US/WA armed forces
  7. Penalties are gross misdemeanor

Read the bill: http://bit.ly/ESSB5038Bill

Talking Points

  • This bill will target women, minority, and marginalized communities by actively criminalizing innocents who get caught near protests or demonstrations.
  • This bill will make the Mulford Act look archaic in how it targets individuals who are attempting to protect their families
  • There is ZERO provision to protect Black & Brown small business owners who lease property for their endeavors
  • There is ZERO protection for the residents of a home who are NOT on the lease or property deed
  • There is ZERO protection for those who are gathered for a memorial, armed to protect against hate crimes, from being targeted by racist & misogynistic groups
  • The bill was amended to 250 ft from a protest—but how many riots/protests/demonstrations gathered without notice?
  • If you’re a renter, you are NOT protected as the bills are written
  • If you lease a retail space, you are NOT protected as the bills are written.
  • If you are not listed as the HOMEOWNER, you are NOT protected as the bills have been written.
  • WA State has a horrible record of prosecuting violations of gun control laws, while RELEASING violent criminals with felony firearm convictions on their record.
  • Oppression is government policies that individuals took too far. Don’t use our civil rights to divide us.

Outdated: Refers to previous versions of the bill

Here are some quick talking points:

  • This bill reduces the ability of a peaceful protestor to defend him- or herself against an overzealous police officer, counter protestor, or other attacker. 
  • Carrying a firearm with intent to intimidate is already illegal in Washington per RCW 9.41.270
  • Prohibiting our ability to defend our lives and those of our children within three football fields of a demonstration is egregious and unnecessary
  • With police staffing at record low levels, there is no way to maintain a 1000’ cordon around a demonstration
  • Federal law enforcement officers or National Guard currently stationed at the Capitol are prohibited from carrying near demonstrations
  • Peaceful, legal open carry within public supermarkets, restaurants, shopping areas, and other public areas far removed and completely separated from a demonstration will be penalized
  • The bill is extremely vague in what constitutes a demonstration and could easily lead to selective enforcement. 
  • Or worse, it could be used to weaponize protests to roll up groups a protestor doesn’t like: Blacks, Asians, Latinos, LGBTQ; all they have to do is stage a protest and call the police 
  • Because communities of color are over-policed anyway, it stands to reason that this bill will disproportionally harm them. 
  • Demonstrations in Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia this past summer were not defined nor publicized until the even is underway.
  • The average person will be unable to avoid violations of the law while legally traversing areas of public space
  • Law enforcement do not have the ability during demonstrations/riots/protests/etc. to escort the lawfully armed individual to either the current perimeter or some other safe area away from the demonstration.
  • 1,000 feet separation is excessive–and discriminatory against those who’re lawfully traveling. This is 3x greater than a standard football field–and double the distance for firearm businesses (500′).
  • If the protest is outside your door, you’re prevented from even leaving your house or place of work.
  • You’re prevented from open or even conceal carrying your firearm in your vehicle if you’re within 1000 feet of a protest.

HB 1283-Failed to pass out of house or origin by 3/9

HB 1283 entitled, “Relating to including the open carry or display of weapons within the offense of criminal mischief”, is dangerous and subtle.

Note: this bill has been amended to include much of the existing law describing criminal mischief with a weapon. You can read the amended version.

The new bill makes it a felony if 3+ people are carrying any weapons with the intent to intimidate.

As was posted in the Washington 2021 Legislative Action Group, someone could actually be charged with a felony if they happened to be carrying robust signs and were thought to be intimidating other groups or counter protestors.

  • This bill reduces the ability of a peaceful demonstrator to defend him or herself against an overzealous police officer, counter demonstrator, or other attacker. 
  • You could be charged with a felony because someone “felt threatened.” This is going to be a police officer’s nightmare–how are they to determine such a subjective claim?
  • How close does someone have to be to feel threatened by someone carrying a visible firearm? 10 feet? 20? 50, 1000?
  • Carrying a firearm or weapon with intent to intimidate is already illegal in Washington per RCW 9.41.270
  • Aiming any firearm at another human is already illegal under RCW 9.41.230.
  • What purpose does it serve to make something extra illegal?
  • This bill reduces the ability of a business owner to protect his / her property.
  • Businesses such as banks and armored transportations services would be limited to two armed security guards.
  • Personal security details and actions, such as the one used by Q13 FOX Seattle during the riots, would be a felony offense under this law.
  • The weaponizing of 911 against marginalized and minority communities is already happening. Amy Cooper, a NYC dog walker was recently convicted of calling 911 and filing a false police report, claiming a Black man was threatening her and tried to assault her. Even though he was unarmed, she said on the call, “she felt threatened by him.” ““Using a police in a way that is was both racially offensive and designed to intimidate is something that can’t be ignored.”
  • Or worse, this law is extremely ripe for abuse. it could be used to weaponize feelings to roll up groups any individual doesn’t like: Blacks, Asians, Latinos, LGBTQ; all they have to do is stand nearby and call the police.
  • Because communities of color are over-policed anyway, it stands to reason that this bill will disproportionally harm them.

Let’s get everyone involved! Comment on the bill! Click on the links to each of the bills above and leave a comment: let your legislators know just how bad this is.