Rep. Walsh refuses to vote as House approves firearms ban at Capitol grounds – The Daily World

Posted: March 31, 2021 at 3:38 am

By Claudia Yaw

The (Centralia) Chronicle

After a heated and lengthy debate, the state House of Representatives passed a bill this weekend prohibiting open carry on Capitol grounds or at permitted demonstrations across the state.

The 57-40 vote means the bill clears a major hurdle, and if the Senate concurs with adopted amendments, the bill heads to the governors desk to be signed into law.

On the House floor this weekend, Democrats said the bill balances first and second amendment rights by preserving space for protesters to assemble without fear of intimidation. The Capitol grounds are traditionally where constituents have gathered to protest and show support for issues considered by lawmakers.

Southwest Washingtons Republican lawmakers stood fast in their opposition. Ultimately, 19th District state Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, refused to cast a vote.

I refuse to vote on this bill, Madam Speaker. Its unconstitutional, he said.

Walsh, who called debate on the bill a profound matter, suggested that it could embolden sexual predators and encourage bad actors to terrorize citizens and attack law enforcement officers.

The staunch conservative also referenced the recent stabbing of a Thurston County Sheriffs Deputy in Yelm an incident unrelated to any demonstration saying we get there by trying to draw equivalence between feelings of intimidation and foundational rights to self protection.

20th District State Rep. Ed Orcutt R-Kalama, added that many folks who open carry at demonstrations are not threatening in any way.

Thats what Im hearing from my constituents: Why are you turning me into a criminal? he told lawmakers.

The legislation comes after months of what became regular armed demonstrations at the Capitol building. It also comes on the heels of armed protesters breaking through the gates of the governors mansion, as well as an incident last year in which more than 100 armed, angry and unpermitted demonstrators made their way into the statehouse.

Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, pointed to similar laws that prohibit firearms during court proceedings in order to insulate judicial proceedings from intimidation.

The right to petition for redress of grievances is no less worthy of that protection, he said.

Several Republicans argued that, under the bill, unknowing citizens could find themselves in zones where carrying weapons is criminalized. Many others said that brandishing weapons is not only a Second Amendment right, but a First Amendment right.

Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, who introduced similar legislation last year, argued that civil discourse critical to democracy does not require the type of tactical gear and long guns that have become commonplace at demonstrations. She pointed to the incident last February in which supporters of Rep. Matt Shea ousted by his colleagues after he was found to have planned acts of domestic terrorism flooded the Capitol building.

These people were here banging on this House chambers doors, shouting for (Shea). We and our staff were told to shelter in place or leave the premises if we could, Senn said. Is this political speech? Or intimidation versus debate?

Read the original here:
Rep. Walsh refuses to vote as House approves firearms ban at Capitol grounds - The Daily World

Related Post