Lawmakers took up arms on Tuesday at the 2014 Legislative Shootout, held at the Evergreen Sportsmen’s Club.
The event, which has been held on and off for nearly 27 years, was organized by Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn), as a way to introduce legislators to recreational firearms and as an activity off the Capitol campus, she said.
At this year’s event, Roach invited several conservation groups and hunting and fishing related businesses, stressing the economic impact of the more than 1 million fish and hunting licenses in Washington state.
Democratic and Republican legislators in organized in teams tried their hand in rifle, pistol and shotgun competitions, which was slated for the entire afternoon.
Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) led the Democratic team, and said it was important to maintain the second amendment right to bear arms.
“In this state, we’ve spent the money in the right places to make sure that our state is one of the safest in the nation already,” he said.
Hargrove said that especially in rural areas, firearms are an important protection against human and animal dangers.
“When you live in a rural area… you’re pretty much on your own,” he said. “It’s a tool that should be used safely and should be respected.”
The event occurred as the state gears up to consider two opposing gun initiatives: Initiative 594 would expand background checks in the state to include gun shows and online sales; Initiative 591, which is an opposing measure that would bar the state from requiring background checks more rigorous than those required by federal law.
Both citizen-led initiatives were sent to legislators and hearings were held, including one where former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, testified. However, state lawmakers took no action on either initiative, so voters will decide on both measures in November.
Roach told a reporter that she intended to be active during the campaign in favor of Initiative 591, saying that the state already has good background checks.
“Anything further, we are taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens,” she said.