New gun laws push Richland gun shop owner to leave state
RICHLAND, Wash. —
A slippery-slope, that's how a veteran describes efforts to restrict who, what and where gun-owners can carry.
With more than 20 gun-related bills in Olympia this session, Second Amendment advocates say they're starting to feel cornered.
They're voicing their disapproval with rallies, signs and shouting into megaphones.
Closer to home, two-time combat veteran Steve Krause says he doesn't think lawmakers respect, or even understand why people like him are upset.
"Laws like this are dividing the country," he said. "A lot of the people who voted for these gun laws don't even own guns, they don't care, it doesn't affect them."
Krause owns The Bunker in Richland, a military surplus store where a sign says customers feel like family.
"I get people who come in here and to show [their] kids ribbons and old pictures from when they were in the military," he explained.
He says first-time visitors often comment on the same thing when they walk through the front-door.
"'I sure remember that smell'," he laughed. "Military gear has a smell they remember from when they were in, and its something that they really enjoy."
But for Krause and his customers, that's all about to change.
He's selling the store and moving his young family to Arizona, somewhere he says they take the Second-Amendment seriously.
"I have a choice to either stay here and abide by the law, or move somewhere that better suits what I feel is right," he said. "The deciding factor truly was the law (Washington initiative 1639) passing.
But Krause said he isn't leaving disgusted; if anything, he's sad.
"They start talking about magazine limits and more gun restrictions," he lamented. "I don't think it's going to turn out the way they think it's going to turn out."
Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) is sponsoring SB5062, a measure limiting high-capacity magazines.
It's one of many bills making the rounds this session, aiming to reduce mass-shootings.
"I think we need to have a reasonable balance between the right to own a gun, and the right to live without fear of being mowed down in our society," she said. "We've tried it the NRA's way for a very long time and we haven't seen a reduction in gun violence."
Right now Washington State doesn't have magazine capacity limits; Sen. Kuderer told Action News her bill is a step in the right direction.
But for Krause and many like him, it's not about how many bullets his gun holds: it's about restricting the way he's able to legally protect his family.
"Our forefathers had just got done fighting off a tyrannical government," he said. "So when you start removing gun rights people get worried. Washington state is going down a road that will stop me from having every advantage that a criminal would have."
Kuderer lists studies that say an average of two shots being fired to diffuse a dangerous situation.
She says if there's a real problem with people not being able to adequately defend themselves they can go back and revisit it.
"But I think it's going to have the opposite affect. I think people are going to be able to defend themselves when they need to, and I think we're going to see a reduction in the number of mass-shootings," she said.
The Bellevue senator says yes, unfortunately bad guys will find a way around the system.
"But I don't need to make it easy for them, we as a state don't need to make it easy for them to go and buy high-capacity magazines so they can shoot large numbers of people in seconds," she said. "I've heard people say that gun-violence has become normalized, I refuse to accept that. We need to try something different, we haven't used this approach before."
Rather than sticking around to find out, Krause says it's time to move on.
"My beliefs and what I think is right and wrong don't align with what Washington state is passing for laws so I'm going to go somewhere that's safer for my family," he said.
For a list of all bills relating to guns this session, visit 2019 Bills: Firearms.