Beth Flynn, executive director of Washington Ceasefire, says it's too early to know for sure what type of weapons were used in the Newtown shooting, but that "usually in these mass shootings, there is an assault weapon, and it was purchased at a gun show."
Which brings us to the familiar "gun show loophole."
Whether or not the weapons used in Connecticut were purchased at a gun show, Flynn says, the gun show loophole is a problem that needs to be addressed. There are gun shows every single weekend in Washington State, and currently 47 percent of guns purchased in this state are bought at them. One reason people like to buy guns at gun shows: there's no background check required. That's the loophole.
As a result, Flynn says, "there’s an endless supply of weapons available for people who don’t want to go to a gunshop and be ID’d through the federal ID system."
Will Flynn's group push the state legislature to close the gun show loophole during the session that starts in January?
"Because there's no support for it in the legislature," Flynn says.
Her group has tried and failed too many times on this one, and always finds itself, as Flynn puts it, "outgunned by the NRA—no pun intended."
Instead, her group will be pushing legislation that would increase the penalties for underage possession of a firearm. Right now in Washington State, according to Flynn, if someone under the age of 18 is found to be in possession of a firearm (which is illegal), that person essentially gets five chances—that is, four more times to be caught with a firearm—before the threat of time in juvenile detention comes into play.
With the support of King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, as well as support from State Senator Adam Kline (D-37) and State Representative Christopher Hurst (D-31), Flynn's group will be pushing next session to change the law "from a slap on the wrist until you’re caught for the fifth time, to fifteen weeks in juvenile detention for the second time you're caught.”
Absent a political change that makes closing the gun show loophole more viable in Olympia, Flynn says, "We’re choosing to focus on that.”