OLYMPIA – Two bills sponsored by Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, dealing with hate crimes and 3D-printed guns respectively recently won approval by the Washington State Legislature.
Under current law, crimes motivated by hate are prosecuted as “Malicious Harassment.” HB 1732 strengthens Washington’s hate crimes statutes by clearly calling out these offenses for what they are by renaming the violations “Hate Crime Offenses” in state law.
The legislation also adds “gender identity or expression” to the list of protected categories, and increases the maximum civil liability for those guilty of committing hate crimes from $10,000 to $100,000.
The bill also creates an advisory work group that would take a closer look to identifying the root causes of and preventing hate crimes.
One of the reasons Valdez wanted to sponsor the legislation is the recent spike in hate crimes. Washington state saw an increase of 42% in hate crimes from 2016 to 2017. The Seattle Police Department tracked 521 bias-related crimes in 2018, up from 418 in 2017 and 256 in 2016.
HB 1732 was amended by the Senate to include as a hate crime the act of placing a noose on the property of a victim who is or is perceived to be a member of a racial or ethnic minority group. The Senate made other changes related to the advisory work group.
The Senate changes required approval from the House before the bill could be sent to the governor. The House concurred with those changes on Thursday.
HB 1739 attempts to get out ahead of a potential major public safety concern regarding consumer production of 3D-printed guns. The bill will make it illegal to manufacture, buy, sell, or possess an undetectable firearm in most circumstances.
Untraceable and undetectable firearms are also referred to as “ghost guns” since they do not have serial numbers and may not contain enough metal components to be picked up by common metal detectors.
The Senate made a technical amendment to the bill. The House concurred with that amendment on Tuesday.
Both bills will now go to the governor for his consideration. The 2019 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn for the year on April 28.
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4.10.19 – Hate crimes bill wins Senate approval