State looks at stern laws for juveniles with guns

OLYMPIA — Washington lawmakers began exploring a proposal Thursday that would send more youths into a rehabilitation program if they are caught illegally possessing a gun.

In a committee hearing before the state House, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said current law leaves the impression that the state tolerates juvenile possession of firearms by allowing them to quickly return back to their ways. He said it’s important to send a message about the long-term consequences of using a gun.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do here is turn a kid’s life around,” Satterberg said.

Democratic Rep. Christopher Hurst, an Enumclaw lawmaker sponsoring the bill, said the state needs to help kids avoid making foolish decisions that will change their lives forever.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington opposed the bill, with legislative director Shankar Narayan saying the effort could actually start the process of cycling people in and out of prison for the rest of their lives. He said there’s no evidence that the proposal would help decrease youth violence and that the plan takes away options from judges.

State officials project that the bill would cost between about $1 million to $3 million per year, and the ACLU believes that money would be better spent on other intervention efforts.

“We need to spend our precious public safety resources where they will actually make a difference,” Narayan said.

The measure handles cases depending on age, type of conviction and past offenses, but many juveniles convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm would face an initial sentence of at least 15 weeks in the rehabilitation program.

The House Judiciary Committee did not take a vote on the measure.

More in Local News

Snohomish mayoral candidates have very little in common

Karen Guzak and John Kartak are vying for the new position.

Second teen charged after $1 million in school vandalism

Two teens now face felony charges for damage at two schools in Darrington last summer.

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

A potentially transformative council election in Snohomish

As the city adopts a new form of government, many new faces are seeking office.

Mill Creek hires Gina Hortillosa as public works director

Hortillosa will be responsible for creating strategic infrastructure plans to promote economic growth.

1 shot dead, another wounded in apparent Everett robbery

There are indications the victims might have known the shooter, who apparently fled in a vehicle.

This dental office devoted a day to free care for veterans

All Smiles Northwest in Everett was among businesses observing Freedom Day USA.

Drowned boy’s uncle helped search for him, then confessed

The suspect, 19, described in detail the death of Dayvid Pakko, 6, and said he had planned it.

Most Read