Urging Legislature to start intervening earlier with juveniles convicted of illegal use or possession of firearms
StoryMetropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn said today that it’s time to address illegal juvenile gun possession much more seriously. Dunn introduced a motion calling on the Washington state Legislature to adopt legislation that intervenes with youth convicted of weapons possession earlier than currently allowed by state law.
Juvenile gun crime continues to be a serious issue in King County—an issue that current state law does not adequately address.
Under current state statutes, armed juvenile offenders are eligible for home detention, deferred sentences, community service hours and no more than 30 days of detention for their first four convictions of illegal gun possession. Currently, it takes five convictions for illegal gun possession before a juvenile is placed in a detention facility for an extended period—sending the message that carrying a gun is not a serious matter.
Proposed legislation in Olympia, SB 5313, would change current law to address this issue the first time a juvenile is caught with a gun. At the first conviction, juveniles could be placed in a secure facility for an extended period, giving correction officials the opportunity to provide counseling and educate young people about the dangerous consequences that gun violence can lead to.
“Supporting and passing this law is an absolute necessity,” said Dunn. “Not only will this law place stricter penalties on dangerous juveniles, but it also gets them the help and counseling they need. Sending them to the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration may lead to rehabilitation and prevention, potentially saving these at-risk youth from a life of crime.”