The Capitol Record

Measure over gun safety program stirs debate in Senate

Debate over gun control heated up Friday as the state Senate considered a joint memorial supporting a firearms safety program in schools.

The measure encourages schools to use a program sponsored by the National Rifle Association. The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program would be used to teach young students in the state’s schools, preschools and licensed daycare centers about gun safety.

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) said he agreed with the sentiment of teaching gun safety, but criticized the timing of the resolution.

“To bring forth a measure that is supported by the National Rifle Association when we have not had a hearing on a single gun-related safety measure, several of which show strong support in this state … in my view, I think we are missing the ball here a little bit in the overall picture of where we are at this point in time in our state’s history. I respect other people’s opinions, but I think we should be moving forward other measures more important than this one,” Frockt said.

The NRA has been working to block a number of measures introduced this legislative session, including a bill that would expand background checks on gun sales.

Even the resolution’s sponsor, Sen. Marilyn Chase (D-Shoreline), voiced concern over the NRA’s agenda.

“I would like to think that the National Rifle Association would go back to its roots of a sports and social organization, not an apologist for the assault weapons industry,” she said.

Chase said the Eddie Eagle program “does not advocate the beliefs of National Rifle Association except for one thing – teaching gun safety.” She said it teaches children to “stop, don’t touch, leave the area and tell an adult” if they find a gun.

Several Senate Republicans spoke in favor of the resolution, saying the program would save lives.

“This is the most important measure that this body can take for safety because no matter how many laws you pass, you will not eradicate guns from society, but teaching our youth how to behave around them will save more lives than anything you can possibly do,” Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) said.

The joint memorial — which suggests that schools use the program, but does not require it — passed on a 40-to-8 vote, and now heads to the House for its consideration.

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