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Published On: Thu, Feb 21st, 2013

Washington State gun control bill to be retooled after ‘home inspections’ for gun owners questioned

One of the major gun-control efforts in Washington state calls for the sheriff to inspect the homes of assault-weapon owners. The bill’s backers say that was a mistake.

The Seattle Times published an article which energized citizens to question the bill.

Home inspections by the sheriff was called “Orwellian” as the bill’s details would make the reality and not hypothetical.

With respect to the thousands of weapons like that already owned by Washington residents, the bill says this:

Terminator_2-t-1000 police officer pointing“In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”

In summary, the authorities can come into homes without a warrant to poke around and failure to comply could get you up to a year in jail.

“They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away. But then you see this, and you have to wonder,” says Lance Palmer, a Seattle trial lawyer and self-described liberal.

The Senate Bill 5737 has already been motified as the three Seattle Democrats who proposed the bill plead ignorance.

“I’m a liberal Democrat — I’ve voted for only one Republican in my life,” Palmer said to the Times. “But now I understand why my right-wing opponents worry about having to fight a government takeover.”

He added: “It’s exactly this sort of thing that drives people into the arms of the NRA.”

Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, a lawyer who typically is hyper-attuned to civil-liberties issues, said he did not know the bill authorized police searches because he had not read it closely before signing on.

“I made a mistake,” Kline said. “I frankly should have vetted this more closely.”

The article notes “That lawmakers sponsor bills they haven’t read is common.”

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, also condemned the search provision in his own bill, after the Times writer questioned him about it. He said Palmer is right that it’s probably unconstitutional.

“I have to admit that shouldn’t be in there,” Murray said.

A Senate Democratic spokesman blamed unnamed staff and said a new bill will be introduced.

Murray had alluded at a gun-control rally in January that progress on guns could take years.

“We will only win if we reach out and continue to change the hearts and minds of Washingtonians,” Murray said. “We can attack them, or start a dialogue.”

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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