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Gun bill giving sheriff right to inspect homes pulled by Washington lawmakers

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People look at firearm displays at the Sports Connection Gun Show at the Modern Living Building at State Fair Park in Yakima, Wash., on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, TJ Mullinax)

Washington lawmakers have pulled a contentious provision from a gun-control bill posted on the state’s legislative tracking website, after calling a section that gave law enforcement authority to enter homes and check for proper weapons storage a “mistake.”

The Seattle Times reports that Seattle trial lawyer Lance Palmer first raised doubts about Senate Bill 5737 to the newspaper, complaining: “They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away. But then you see this, and you have to wonder.”


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Mr. Palmer was referring to a now-scrapped section of the text that gave the local sheriff the right to conduct home searches for proper storage guns once each year. The text of the bill — prior to its scrapping — read, as reported by The Seattle Times: “In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”

Violators — those who wouldn’t let the sheriff inside to inspect — could get up to a year in jail, The Seattle Times reported. Even Mr. Palmer, a self-described liberal, found the provision distasteful.

“I’m a liberal Democrat,” he said, in The Seattle Times report. “But now I understand why my right-wing opponents worry about having to fight a government takeover. It’s exactly this sort of thing that drives people into the arms of the NRA.”

Democrat bill sponsors, facing widespread outcry, told The Seattle Times they didn’t fully vet the eight-page bill before introducing it last week and that the home-inspection allowance was a simple oversight.

“I made a mistake,” Sen. Adam Kline said, according to The Seattle Times. “I frankly should have vetted this more closely.”

And main bill sponsor, Sen. Ed Murray, said: “I have to admit that shouldn’t be in there,” according to The Seattle Times.

The original version of the bill containing the disputed language is no longer available on the state’s website. The Seattle Times, however, maintains a copy for view on its site.

About the Author

Cheryl K. Chumley

Cheryl Chumley is a continuous news writer for The Washington Times. Previously, she was part of the start-up team for The Washington Times’ digital aggregation product, Times247. She’s also a 2008-2009 Robert Novak journalism fellow with The Phillips Foundation. She can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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