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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

In Wake Of Tragedies, Wash. Lawmakers Will Examine Guns And Kids

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A rash of accidental shootings involving kids and unsecured guns has some Washington lawmakers considering a change in the law. A legislative panel will meet Friday to discuss ways to prevent children from getting their hands on firearms.

This year started with a series of tragedies in western Washington. First, there was the boy who brought a gun to school in his backpack. It went off and critically injured a classmate. Then the three-year-old son of a police officer shot and killed his older sister when their parents left them alone in a car. A few days later another three-year-old boy fatally shot himself when his family stopped for gas.

In all three cases the adults were charged with crimes. But unlike many states, Washington does not have a specific law on the books that requires adults to keep their guns away from kids.

State Representative Jamie Pedersen, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, says perhaps that time has come.

“We need to put the incentives on adults to make sure that the kids don’t have the ability to make such a tragic mistake.”

Pederson’s committee is scheduled to take testimony from prosecutors, gun control advocates as well as the NRA.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."