Washington State House Democrats


Taking aim at the hidden cost of gun violence

The echo of gunfire from violent crime may reverberate through society for years, leaving hidden costs to be borne by communities already grieving for their families, friends, and neighbors. Two gun-related measures, introduced by State Representative Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island), are designed to reduce the government’s potential role in any future violent crime and help offset the hidden costs to society.

HB 2372 addresses the problem of guns previously in government possession being used to commit a crime. Currently, Washington law enforcement agencies have three options for disposing of confiscated guns that are not needed for evidence: keep, destroy or sell. This bill would prevent agencies from selling weapons and reintroducing them to our communities.

“As a mom, I want to do everything in my power to keep our kids safe from another school shooting,” explained Senn. “As a legislator, I want to ensure that the State’s fingerprints are never near the trigger.”

“I sleep better at night knowing that guns that were previously in my department’s possession are not going to be involved in crimes in our communities. That is one of the many reasons that our department destroys the guns we confiscate,” said Ed Holmes, Mercer Island Police Chief and past president of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

HB 2374 adds a 5 cent fee to each round of ammunition at the point of sale. Proceeds of the fee will be distributed to cities and counties across the state, to aid local law enforcement with fighting violent crime.

“I was deeply involved with the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle when there was a hate crime shooting there in 2006,” Senn said. “From day one through the four years it took to convict the shooter, I saw the toll it took on the victims, their support networks and society at large.”

This one crime resulted in millions in first responder costs; from 911 to police SWAT, emergency and ongoing health costs, court and jail costs, psychological and mental health-related costs, lost wages and productivity for dozens of affected people.

“Just as cigarette taxes help pay for the impacts of second hand smoke, so will the fee on bullets help pay for the hidden costs of gun violence,” Senn said.

“The bills introduced by Representative Senn can make a real contribution towards reducing gun violence,” said Renee Hopkins, Executive Director of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “They are common-sense and evidence-based actions that will strengthen public safety, save lives and keep our communities safe in Washington State.”

HB 2372 and HB 2374 have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further review.