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Vote on NRA gun safety program becomes soapbox for some Senate Democrats

Post by Melissa Santos / The Olympian on March 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
March 8, 2013 10:28 pm
Materials associated with the Eddie Eagle gun safety program, which was developed by the National Rifle Association.
Materials associated with the Eddie Eagle gun safety program, which was developed by the National Rifle Association.

Eight Democratic members of the state Senate voted no Friday on a proclamation to encourage use of the National Rifle Association’s gun safety curriculum in schools, seizing the opportunity to decry how little attention gun-control bills have received in the Senate this year.

Senate Joint Memorial 8006, introduced by Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, would have no practical effect, but would indicate support for the use of the NRA’s Eddie Eagle gun safety program in schools and preschools. The NRA program tells children who find guns: “Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.”

Sen. Dave Frockt, D-Seattle, said he couldn’t vote yes on a measure promoting the use of the NRA curriculum in schools when other Democratic gun-control proposals weren’t taken up by the Senate this year.  A proposal to require universal background checks on all gun purchases didn’t receive a hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee earlier this session, though a similar bill in the House fared better and could move forward. The NRA has opposed the background-check measures.

“While I acknowledge the benefits of this program….in my view, I think that we are missing the ball here a little bit with the overall picture,” Frockt said. “I think we should be moving forward with other measures that are more important than this one.”

“I think that we have an obligation to make a statement with our vote,” Frockt said.

The measure passed the Senate 40-8. Besides Frockt, the other Democratic senators who voted no on the proclamation were Andy Billig of Spokane, Ed Murray of Seattle, Adam Kline of Seattle, Christine Rolfes of Bainbridge Island, Bob Hasegawa of Seattle, Kevin Ranker of Orcas Island, and Jeannie Darneille of Tacoma.

Chase and Republicans who supported the measure said that it has nothing to do with politics or the NRA — only with teaching kids how to be safe around guns.

“I can hardly believe that anyone would be against the notion of educating the children,” said Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn. “This is a sad, sad day.”

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, called the Eddie Eagle program “the most important measure that this body can take for safety.”

But Murray, the Senate Democratic leader, disagreed.

“It’s not very helpful in a schoolroom when you’re facing more than just a handgun,” Murray said.

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