House committee hears Hayes’ bill to tighten state’s firearm offender registry law
The House Judiciary Committee took testimony Wednesday on a measure that would require people convicted of certain gun offenses to register as firearm offenders.
The prime sponsor of House Bill 2410 is Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island. He says the measure expands on legislation signed into law in 2013 that created a central firearm offender registry, but gave judges discretion of whether convicted felony firearm offenders would have to register.
“Since the statute was put into place, around 1,200 offenders have been eligible to register for this. However, only 86 offenders have been required by the judges to register as a firearm offender,” said Hayes. “My concern is that we put a tool in place and the judges are not using it. If the judges aren't following through with it, then why do we have the law?”
Hayes, who is a longtime Snohomish County law enforcement officer, said the original measure was meant to help local law enforcement combat gun violence and go after repeat gun offenders. Under House Bill 2410, any person convicted of a felony firearm offense would have to register for the firearms database, rather than leaving imposition of the registration requirement to the court.
Hayes added that an amendment to his bill has been proposed that he supports, which would narrow the requirement to firearm offenses involving a minor child, sexual motivation, or a serious violent offense. Other firearm felony crimes would fall under the original law that gives the court discretion to order registration.
“I want to focus on the violent felony firearm offenders. If an offender has used a gun against another person, it should be mandated that convicted felon register as a firearms offender,” added Hayes. “This should give our law enforcement officers some solid tools to protect themselves and add accountability to ensure these felons don't possess firearms.”
A representative from the National Rifle Association testified his group “wholeheartedly” supports Hayes' bill.
The committee has until Feb. 5 to take action on the measure.
###Washington State House Republican Communications