In a news release from the Legislature’s House Republicans, Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, issued a statement about his decision to refuse to vote on legislation that would restrict the open carry of firearms at public demonstrations and the state Capitol.
Walsh, the ranking Republican member on the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, led a more than five-hour debate on Senate Bill 5038. Walsh and other House Republicans argued the measure violates the Washington State Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.
The bill was approved, with amendments, on a party-line vote of 57 to 40. The amended bill now goes to the Senate, where legislators will decide to concur or not with the House’s amended version of the proposal. If they agree with the changes, it will head to the governor’s desk for signature and will immediately become law.
“After a long and vigorous debate, it became clearer than ever to me that Senate Bill 5038 is unconstitutional,” Walsh said. “Although House rules require every member to vote on every bill that reaches the floor, I felt in that moment that it was time to take a principled stand. So, I refused.”
During debate on Amendment 467, which inserts an emergency clause that implements the underlying bill immediately after becoming law, Walsh expressed skepticism that parts of Senate Bill 5038 were made at the request of the Washington State Patrol (WSP), as House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) had said. The State Patrol later said it had not made a request for an emergency clause. Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), who initially sponsored the bill in the Senate, later said that the claim about the WSP was a misunderstanding due to the virtual nature of this year’s session.