King County Tackles Gun Violence with Prevention Task Force and New Firearm Regulations Bills

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On Jan. 9, Leesa Manion was sworn in as the new King County Prosecutor, and she has prioritized taking action towards improvement in public safety. She announced the creation of several specialized units and task forces, including a new Gun Violence Prevention Unit as a part of her mission to address some of “King County’s greatest areas of concern.” 

Manion is in the process of establishing a division which focuses on gender-based violence and prevention. The division includes the Domestic Violence Unit, the Sexually Violent Predator Unit and Special Assault Units to handle sex crimes, trafficking, hate crimes and other practices. The goal is to “elevate and improve [the] office’s response to gender-based violence” and bring a “victim-centered response” to cases. 

An Economic Crimes and Wage Theft Division is also in creation to tackle retail theft, identity theft, economic crimes, fraud, elder abuse and wage theft, as well as a Felony Traffic Unit to focus on vehicular homicide and assaults. 

The Gun Violence Prevention Unit’s goal is to identify and prosecute individuals harming the community, and to prevent individuals who are close to gun violence from becoming victims or perpetrators through community resources. This will also include more coordination between The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and their Extreme Risk Protection Order team. Manion wants this unit to use data to collectively address gun violence through “a strong partnership [with] prosecutors, police, community, and nonprofits.”

The Washington State House of Representatives is also targeting public safety by implicating firearms-related safety measures. Two bills are currently in committee, meaning they’ve been referred to a committee, and that committee can hold public hearings and edit the bill.

Bill 1240 bans manufacturing, importing, distributing and selling assault weapons, including semi-automatic rifles with or without a fixed magazine with more than 10 rounds and semi-automatic pistols that can take detachable magazines. This also provides limited exemptions for antique firearms and licensed dealers selling to state and federal law enforcement agencies or the military. A violation would constitute a gross misdemeanor. 

The second bill, Bill 1143, instates a requirement of a permit, firearms safety training and a 10-day waiting period to purchase firearms. This would prohibit firearms transfers prior to background check completion and create consistency in transfer and procedures.