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Hope’s bill takes aim at criminals to decrease violence

 

February 5, 2013

Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens

JOURNAL STAFF

Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, has introduced a bill to make Washington safer. The bill has a singular purpose—stopping criminals with guns. In Washington state reducing gun crimes could save a lot of lives. According to a Department of Health study, in 2009 more people in Washington state were killed by guns than died in traffic accidents.

Hope’s bill would create a criminal gun database, much like the Sex Offender registry that is currently used.

The idea behind the criminal gun database is to make the faces of criminals familiar to police so they can easily recognize potential threats in advance.

Entry into the criminal gun database is determined at the time of sentencing and is up to the discretion of the presiding judge. Listing in the criminal gun database would last four years.

“We need to be proactive instead of reactive. Any cop can tell you there is usually a progression of violence in crimes. Data tells us that people who commit murder have, almost always, committed a lesser offense with a weapon. In order to make a difference we must focus on criminals and their behavior before they escalate their actions. This bill is a practical solution that zeros in on the offenders,” Hope said.

Laws similar to Hope’s were instituted in Baltimore and New York resulting in large decreases in crime.

Hope was inspired to introduce the law by a former Baltimore police commissioner. In studies done by the city of Baltimore, 96 percent of convicted homicide suspects that used a gun had a prior gun offense before escalating to a homicide.

“We can learn from our mistakes and build on the success of others. Baltimore and New York are great examples. Now Washington can step forward and be the first state to follow the lead of these big cities. We can reduce violence statewide. Requiring felons to be registered gives police an invaluable tool to stop violence before it happens,” Hope said.

 

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