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Governor Jay Inslee Puts Lives and Democracy First By Signing Law Banning Open Carry of Certain Weapons at the State Capitol and Permitted Demonstrations

Washington, DC — The past year has starkly illustrated the serious threats gun violence and armed protestors present to our democracy and our democratic values. In states like Michigan and Virginia, armed vigilantes openly carried assault weapons in an effort to intimidate lawmakers and the public at state capitols. Today, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law SB 5038, a bill that will prohibit the open carry of certain weapons at permitted demonstrations and the Washington state capitol. Giffords, the gun violence prevention group led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauds Governor Jay Inslee, Senator Patty Kuderer, and the Washington legislature for passing this significant law.

“Guns do not belong in state capitols or at peaceful rallies or demonstrations. The presence of armed extremists carrying weapons into public spaces and legislative buildings to harass and intimidate is a direct threat to our democratic process,” said Nico Bocour, Government Affairs Director. “These spaces should be safe for all to participate in democratic debate without intimidation or the fear of gun violence. We thank Senator Kuderer and Governor Inslee for demonstrating the courage to act to protect the people of Washington State.” 

The use of guns to intimidate and threaten voters, elected officials, and peaceful demonstrators poses a serious threat to our democracy. When extremists are given free reign to use firearms to harass and intimidate, the concept of “liberty and justice for all” is threatened. Throughout 2020, groups of armed extremists intimidated and harassed lawmakers and peaceful demonstrators, sometimes provoking violent confrontations. Gun safety laws are integral to a safe and free democracy and are consistent with Second Amendment rights. Our Guns & Democracy project highlights the risks and tragic outcomes that can result when rights are not constrained by responsibilities. 
According to Giffords Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard, Washington received a B+ due to its significant progress on gun safety. Over the past several years, Washington has significantly strengthened its gun laws. The state has the 15th-lowest gun death rate in the country. To further improve its gun laws, Washington should invest in community violence intervention programs, regulate large-capacity magazines, and require the reporting of lost and stolen guns.