OLYMPIA — A person bringing a gun or other weapon in or near a child care center could be charged with a gross misdemeanor under a bill passed Tuesday by the Legislature.
Family day care providers would be required to operate "gun free zones," storing ammunition, firearms and other weapons securely when children are present, according to the bill, which was sent to the governor on a 56-40 vote.
Knowing that the smallest children are protected brings peace of mind to many families and keeps gun violence at bay, said Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place.
But Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, said that while guns are being called dangerous weapons for children, the same thing could be said about kitchen knives, forks, baseball bats and other items that can hurt people.
"Guns are not dangerous," he said. "People that use guns in a violent way are dangerous."
Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, said that having half the population armed is a way to deter bullies and psychopaths from preying on children because they won't know who is armed and who is not. Children should not be made vulnerable and easy targets, he added.
"We need to think more logically, more rationally about having deterred violent behavior we seek to eliminate," he said.
Except for law enforcement officers, a person with a concealed pistol license would be required to keep their weapon secured in a vehicle.
"The bill before us is a recognition that kids and guns do not mix," Kilduff said.