State Sen. Phil Fortunato, (R-Auburn 31st LD), a strong supporter of protecting Washingtonians’ right to bear arms, voiced his opposition to a measure that would crack down on protests by constitutional activists peacefully holding rallies on the steps of the Legislative Building while openly carrying firearms.
Fortunato noted that instead of adopting the convoluted and impractical proposal, Senate Bill 5038, Democrats could just designate the Campus an insane asylum to have the same effect, referring to existing state law that prohibits firearms in a mental institution.
“There are a ridiculous number of provisions, such as being within 75 feet of a demonstration, permitted or an unpermitted gathering of 15 or more people,” said Fortunato. “So, are you going to require people to have someone else measure the distance from the Capitol steps?”
Anti-Second Amendment legislators in the Senate approved the measure Thursday night. The proposal would essentially ban open carry of firearms on the Capitol campus and other “legislative locations” and make the violation of the law a gross misdemeanor.
“This bill turns legal gun owners into criminals and will criminalize a legal protest and activity protected under the state constitution. We are an open carry state,” Fortunato exclaimed.
Fortunato pointed to existing state laws concerning threatening behavior or brandishing a firearm that should be sufficient to address concerns of the bill’s proponents. Simply banning citizens from carrying a firearm in a particular location violates the spirit of both state and federal constitutional protections.
“Washington’s constitution has stronger protections for gun owners than the Second Amendment,” Fortunato added. “It says it shall not be impaired.”