I Grew Up in Richmond

Posted on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

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Thirteen-year-old Sukari Wright, a poet with Youth Speaks, shared her incredibly moving experience with the crowd at the Law Center’s 21st Anniversary Dinner.

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I Grew Up in Richmond
by Sukari Wright

“Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”
—Langston Hughes

I grew up in Richmond
A place where beauty lies on painted red lips of hookers on 23rd street
A place where power is found in guns as bullets become the paint brushes of our canvas
A place where innocence is sometimes too hard to find because we’re all dying of thirst
I learned the rules of these streets
Don’t get too close to anybody cause you never know
They could wake up one morning and be dead the next
It is sometimes the way of the city

On August 23, 2011
The sky was a deep blue
Winds rustled the leaves
Distractions drowned out by the stomping of our feet on barren ground
“Best friend!” I called
Chris nodded with a twinkle in his eye
I’ve known him since we were 5 years old
We’ve played basketball every day since preschool
Took bubble bathes after bathing in the mud
He was my butter biscuit
We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways
Promising to see each other the next day

I wasn’t there but I still imagine him
Walking towards the white house on the corner
There was probably pep in his step as he sailed along the sidewalk
Optimism coursed through his veins
Anxious to see his little brother

A black car drove by
Roses bloomed from a garden of gun smoke
2 thorns pierced his chest
One entered his lung
He laid on the ground
His life fading as the blood drained from his body

Later that day as I was eating dinner
I got a call saying he was shot in a drive-by
He was my best friend
He was like my little brother
So I sat in the Children’s Hospital waiting room
For an hour
From this distance I heard the heart monitor give out
He died at 4:32pm
My heart dropped
Feelings of abandonment
Layered on scars of sorrow
Just an hour before he was up and living
Now he’s down and dead
I’ve known him since we were 5 years old

3 years later I bring new tulips to his grave
I ponder on unanswered questions
Why does this always happen in Richmond?
Death is constantly around the corner waiting to claim it’s new victim
And it had to be him
The kid always ready to laugh
The chuckle of an old man
In his 10 year old heart

Why do we live to die?
Why do we waste away on street corners, selling drugs, letting our bodies be abused as if we have no worth?
I answered my own questions
This is the way of Richmond
Closes friends drop like rain in the sky during harsh winters
I have learned the rules but I refuse to play by them
I refuse to accept that this is just the way it is
This does not have to be our life
Paintings of little black boy silhouettes on gravestones, at memorials

We are the future of Richmond
When a child dies part of our future goes with them
This did not start with us
We are passed down problems before we are old enough to comprehend them
Now it’s our job to fix them
To build a city where
Death will be hard to find
Love will be inevitable
Power will be found only in our minds, not in our trigger-happy fingers
Rewriting the rule book
This will be the new way of Richmond

Massachusetts State Law Summary

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

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View a comprehensive summary of new state laws enacted in 2013 and 2014.

massachusetts

Among other things, Massachusetts:

However, Massachusetts does not:

Local governments in Massachusetts retain authority to regulate firearms and ammunition, and the local licensing authority in Massachusetts has discretion in determining whether to issue a license to carry a firearm.

In 2012, Massachusetts had the lowest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. According to data published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the national crime gun export rate is almost four times the crime gun export rate in Massachusetts. The portion of crime guns that enter Massachusetts from other states is more than twice the national average. Massachusetts imports 2.9 times as many crime guns as it exports. Massachusetts had the 4th lowest rate of crime gun exports among the states in 2009–meaning that crime guns originally sold in Massachusetts were recovered after being used in crimes in other states at the 4th lowest rate among the states.
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Open Carrying in Washington

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Washington prohibits any person from carrying, exhibiting, displaying or drawing any firearm or other weapon “apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner…that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.”1 Any person violating this law is criminally liable for a gross misdemeanor and the loss of his or her concealed pistol license, if any. Exceptions include:

  • Persons acting by virtue of their office or public employment who are vested by law with a duty to preserve public safety or order;
  • Any person making or assisting in making a lawful arrest for the commission of a felony;
  • Any person engaged in military activities;
  • Persons acting in self-defense or in defense of another; or
  • Any act committed by a person while in his or her place of abode or fixed place of business.2

See our Open Carrying of Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.270. []
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.270(3). []

Guns in Schools in Washington

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Washington prohibits any person from carrying any firearm onto, or possessing a firearm on, public or private elementary or secondary school premises, school-provided transportation, or in areas of other facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools.1

Exceptions include:

  • Involvement in a convention, showing, demonstration, lecture, or firearms safety course authorized by school authorities in which the firearms of collectors or instructors are handled or displayed;
  • Engagement in military, law enforcement, or school district security activities;
  • Participation in a firearm or air gun competition approved by the school or school district;
  • Possession of a handgun pursuant to state licensing requirements (or otherwise exempt) while picking up or dropping off a student;
  • Lawful possession of a firearm by any non-student at least age 18 who has secured the firearm within an attended vehicle or concealed from view within a locked unattended vehicle while conducting legitimate business at the school; and
  • Lawful possession of an unloaded firearm by any non-student at least age 18 who has secured the firearm in a vehicle while conducting legitimate business at the school.2

Elementary or secondary school students violating this gun-free schools law are subject to expulsion from the state’s public schools.3

State administrative regulations may prohibit the possession of firearms on particular college or university campuses.

See our Guns in Schools policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.280(1)(a). Any person convicted of violating this provision shall have his or her concealed pistol license revoked for a period of three years, and is prohibited from applying for a concealed pistol license for a period of three years. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.280(2). []
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.280(3). []
  3. Id. See also Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.600.420(1), which requires expulsion for not less than one year for any elementary or secondary school student who is determined to have carried a firearm onto, or to have possessed a firearm on, public elementary or secondary school premises, public school-provided transportation, or areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public schools. School district superintendents may modify such expulsion on a case-by-case basis. Id. Expelled students may receive educational services in an alternative setting by a school district or similar entity. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 28A.600.420(4). []

Guns in Vehicles in Washington

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Washington prohibits the carrying of any loaded handgun in a vehicle without a concealed pistol license.1 In addition to obtaining such a license, a person cannot carry a loaded handgun in any vehicle unless:

  • The handgun is on the licensee’s person;
  • The licensee is within the vehicle at all times the handgun is present; or
  • The licensee is away from the vehicle and the handgun is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view.2

An unloaded handgun kept in a vehicle must be locked within the vehicle and concealed from view.3

Washington generally prohibits the possession or transportation of a loaded rifle or shotgun in or on a motor vehicle.4

Washington also prohibits carrying a firearm or ammunition in a transit vehicle or in or at a transit station with knowledge that this conduct is prohibited.5 “Transit station” is defined as all passenger facilities, structures, stops, shelters, bus zones, properties, and rights-of-way of all kinds that are owned, leased, held, or used by a transit authority for the purpose of providing public transportation services.6

In addition, Washington prohibits any person from carrying, transporting or conveying any loaded firearm in or upon any “nonhighway vehicle” except by permit from the director of fish and wildlife. Excepted from this prohibition is the possession of a loaded handgun by a concealed pistol licensee.7 The state also prohibits carrying any loaded firearm upon any snowmobile except by permit from the director of fish and wildlife.8

State administrative regulations may prohibit firearm possession in other locations.

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.050(2)(a). []
  2. Id. []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.050(3)(a). []
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 77.15.460(1). []
  5. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.91.025(1). []
  6. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.91.025(2)(a). []
  7. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 46.09.480(2). []
  8. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 46.10.495. []

Other Location Restrictions in Washington

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Subject to exceptions, Washington prohibits all persons, including concealed pistol license holders, from possessing a firearm in:

  • Any area of a building used in connection with court proceedings, including courtrooms, jury rooms, judge’s chambers, offices and areas used to conduct court business, waiting areas, and corridors adjacent to areas used in connection with court proceedings. The local judicial authority must designate and clearly mark all areas where weapons are prohibited, and shall post notices at each entrance to the building of the prohibition against weapons in the restricted areas;
  • Restricted access areas of a public mental health facility certified by the state Department of Social and Health Services for inpatient hospital care and state institutions for the care of the mentally ill, excluding those facilities solely for evaluation and treatment;
  • Any portion of an establishment classified by the state liquor control board as off-limits to persons under 21 years of age; or
  • Restricted access areas of a commercial service airport designated in the airport security plan approved by the federal Transportation Security Administration, including passenger screening checkpoints at or beyond the point at which a passenger initiates the screening process. Any restricted access area shall be clearly indicated by prominent signs indicating that firearms and other weapons are prohibited in the area.1

Concealed pistol license holders are generally prohibited from possessing a firearm in any restricted access areas of a jail, law enforcement facility, or any place used for the confinement of a person, unless the holder obtains from the facility’s administrator written permission to possess the firearm while on the premises, or checks the firearm upon entering the facility.2

Washington prohibits any person from knowingly possessing or having under his or her control a firearm in the buildings or adjacent grounds subject to the care, control, or supervision of a state correctional institution.3 This provision does not apply, however, to a concealed pistol license holder who, upon entering the correctional institution premises, proceeds directly to the administration building, and promptly checks his or her firearms.4

State law also prohibits bringing any firearm into any state institution for the care and treatment of mental illness or within the grounds thereof.5

Washington also prohibits the possession of a firearm on the site of an outdoor music festival.6

State administrative regulations prohibit all persons, including concealed pistol license holders, from possessing a firearm:

  • In all facilities owned, leased, or operated by the office of administrative hearings and in rooms where the office of administrative hearings is conducting an administrative hearing;7
  • In all facilities of the Washington State School for the Blind and the Washington State School for the Deaf;8 or
  • On the grounds of any horse racing association.9

In addition, administrative regulations prohibit persons other than concealed pistol licensees from carrying firearms on the state capitol grounds.10 State regulations may impose other location restrictions.

Washington has no statutes prohibiting firearms in the following places, although administrative regulations may apply:

  • Places of worship;
  • Sports arenas;
  • Gambling facilities other than horse racing associations; or
  • Polling places.
  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.300(1)(b)-(e). []
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.300(1)(a), (7). []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.94.043. []
  4. Id. []
  5. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 72.23.300. []
  6. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 70.108.150. []
  7. Wash. Admin. Code 10-20-010(1), 10-20-030. []
  8. Wash. Admin. Code 72-140-080(4), 148-140-080(4). []
  9. Wash. Admin. Code 260-20-075. []
  10. Wash. Admin. Code 236-12-470(1). []

State Right to Bear Arms in Washington

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Article I, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution states: “[t]he right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”

For further information about the right to bear arms in this state, contact the Law Center directly.

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Washington

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Local regulatory authority is derived from Article XI, § 11 of the Washington State Constitution, which provides that “[a]ny county, city, town or township may make and enforce within its limits all such local police, sanitary and other regulations as are not in conflict with general laws.” The Washington Legislature, however, has limited the authority of local governments to regulate firearms. Washington Revised Code Ann. § 9.41.290 states:

The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.

Section 9.41.300(2) provides that cities, towns, counties and other municipalities may enact ordinances restricting:

  • The discharge of firearms in any portion of their respective jurisdiction where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized; and
  • The possession of firearms in any stadium or convention center, operated by a city, town, county, or other municipality, except that such restriction shall not apply to:

Any pistol in the possession of a person licensed to do so under state law or exempt from the licensing requirement; or
Any showing, demonstration, or lecture involving the exhibition of firearms.

Under section 9.41.300(3), cities, towns, and counties also may:

  • Enact ordinances restricting the areas in their respective jurisdictions in which firearms may be sold, but a business selling firearms may not be treated more restrictively than other businesses located within the same zone. An ordinance requiring the cessation of business within a zone shall not have a shorter grandfather period for businesses selling firearms than for any other businesses within the zone; and
  • Restrict the location of a business selling firearms to not less than 500 feet from primary or secondary school grounds, if the business has a storefront, has hours during which it is open for business, and posts advertisements or signs observable to passers-by that firearms are available for sale. A business selling firearms that exists as of the date a restriction is enacted under this provision shall be grandfathered according to existing law.

For further information about preemption in Washington, please contact the Law Center directly.

Immunity Statutes in Washington

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Washington provides that a product manufacturer is subject to liability if a claimant’s harm was proximately caused by the negligence of the manufacturer in that the product was not reasonably safe as designed or not reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided.1 Washington law further provides that:

A product is not reasonably safe as designed, if, at the time of manufacture, the likelihood that the product would cause the claimant’s harm or similar harms, and the seriousness of those harms, outweighed the burden on the manufacturer to design a product that would have prevented those harms and the adverse effect that an alternative design that was practical and feasible would have on the usefulness of the product: PROVIDED, That a firearm or ammunition shall not be deemed defective in design on the basis that the benefits of the product do not outweigh the risk of injury posed by its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged. [emphasis added.]2

In addition, state and local governmental entities, public and private agencies, and the employees of any state or local governmental entity or public or private agency, acting in good faith, are immune from liability for:

  • Failure to prevent the sale or transfer of a firearm to a person whose receipt or possession of the firearm is unlawful;
  • Preventing the sale or transfer of a firearm to a person who may lawfully receive or possess a firearm;
  • Issuing a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license to a person ineligible for such a license;
  • Failing to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license to a person eligible for such a license;
  • Revoking or failing to revoke an issued concealed pistol license or alien firearm license;
  • Errors in preparing or transmitting information as part of determining a person’s eligibility to receive or possess a firearm, or eligibility for a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license;
  • Issuing a dealer’s license to a person ineligible for such a license; or
  • Failing to issue a dealer’s license to a person eligible for such a license.3

An application may be made to a court of competent jurisdiction for a writ of mandamus that directs an issuing agency to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license that was wrongfully refused, directing that erroneous information resulting either in the refusal to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license or the denial of a purchase application be corrected, or directing a law enforcement agency to approve an application to purchase a firearm or approve a dealer’s license that was wrongfully denied.4 A court must provide an expedited hearing for an application brought on one of these grounds, and a person granted a writ of mandamus shall be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.5

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for further information.

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 7.72.030(1). []
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 7.72.030(1)(a). []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.0975(1). []
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.0975(2). []
  5. Id. []

New Jersey State Law Summary

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

new-jersey

View a comprehensive summary of new state laws enacted in 2013 and 2014.

newjersey

Among other things, New Jersey:

New Jersey does not, however:

Local governments in New Jersey have broad authority to regulate firearms and ammunition.

In 2012, New Jersey had the 5th lowest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. New Jersey had the 3rd lowest rate of crime gun exports among the states in 2009–meaning that crime guns originally sold in New Jersey were recovered after being used in crimes in other states at the 3rd lowest rate among the states.  New Jersey imports far more crime guns than it exports.
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