By Marion Bishop for Washington Civil Rights Association
With the 2022 Washington state legislative session on the horizon, many people are asking “How can I be more involved?” with the goal of protecting their rights. Our evaluation is that the current Washington state government presents a greater threat than the federal government to our Second Amendment rights. While we find it egregious that protecting our constitutional rights requires citizens’ activism in the first place, we are inspired and impressed with the level of engagement and commitment we are seeing in the Evergreen State. Growing numbers of Washingtonians are standing up against duplicitous government officials that claim to have our best interests at heart. Our intent in this essay is to share strategies with Washingtonians interested in sending Olympia a polite but firm rebuke to their claims. The 2022 legislative session will run January through March, though bills are being pre-filed now. (This essay is being written in December 2021.) For now the most concerning bills relating to firearms are Senate Bill 5078 (and companion House Bill 1164), which would ban so-called “high-capacity” magazines, and Senate Bill 5217 (and companion House Bill 1229) which would ban so-called “assault weapons”. We will critique these bills in detail in a later essay, but suffice to say we vehemently oppose these bills in any form, no matter how loudly supporters claim they are “common sense” legislation. Other firearm-related topics that may be discussed or legislated during this year’s legislative session include expanding ERPOs (extreme risk protective orders, also called “red flag” laws), further limiting the places where Washingtonians may openly or concealed carry firearms, eliminating state pre-emption of firearms laws, and possibly more. Fortunately, there is much that we can do to preserve our rights. This starts with you, the individual Washingtonian. It is imperative that you know what state legislative district you live in, and who your two state representatives and one state senator are.
This is especially critical for those of us that live in swing districts. You can find this information using the “Find Your District” tool on the Washington state legislature website at leg.wa.gov:
On the website, you can also find summaries and full texts of the bills being proposed by using the “Bill Information” tool. Bills can be searched by bill number or topic. Most of the bills we are keeping track of will appear under the “FIREARMS” topic:
Also of note on the legislature’s website are the committee calendars. As the legislative session progresses, committees will hold meetings to debate bills and hear public comments. The relevant committees for firearm legislation are the Law & Justice Committee in the Senate, and the Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee in the House. We will be keeping close tabs on these schedules.
More details will come later, but for now we will generally encourage you – when the time comes – to comment in opposition to these bills or consider testifying to the committee if you are confident in your public-speaking skills.
Due to COVID protocols, public testimony is done from home now – no need to drive to Olympia.
If this all seems daunting, we have good news – much of the groundwork is already being done. Please consider joining the Washington Civil Rights Association’s Facebook Group.
WCRA is a grassroots organization for supporting pro-gun legislation and culture in Washington state. Specific, coordinated actions will be posted there, along with guidance on contacting your legislators, commenting on bills, testifying, and more. We will be more effective as an organized group, so please encourage like-minded friends and family to join as well. We can also make progress in Olympia by winning over the hearts and minds of those around us through what we already do. Practice utmost gun safety, get properly trained, keep our public shooting lands clean, and hold each other accountable, and show the general public that Washingtonian gun-owners are responsible, average people from all walks of life and all corners of our state.
Results will not be immediate, but demystifying firearms will undoubtedly dull the cultural appetite for gun control legislation. It is our right and responsibility to preserve our rights, but in doing so it is our privilege to meet like-minded people and build our communities. We look forward to once again defeating these bills in the state legislature, and continuing to defeat them in the court of public opinion.