The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms on Wednesday joined forces with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg to hammer down on armed juvenile thugs, throwing its weight behind a proposal to toughen juvenile court standards.
The Bellevue-based group was approached by Satterberg more than two months ago and quickly decided to support his effort because, in the words of CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, “His proposed changes in the law will have no bearing on the rights of legally-armed adults including more than 384,000 citizens who are now licensed to carry concealed in Washington, or the growing number of citizens who openly carry.”
“In our discussion with Dan,” Gottlieb said in a press release, “we were assured that this measure will not prevent juveniles and teens from lawfully using or possessing firearms for hunting, recreational shooting, competition or any other legitimate purpose.”
In a press conference Wednesday morning, Satterberg also revealed that the plan has the support of Washington Ceasefire. This hardly means that CCRKBA has a new warm and fuzzy relationship with the gun control lobby, and it constituted a “first” for both organizations to be on the same side of an issue. However, the gun rights organization that championed Three Strikes and Hard Time for Armed Crime laws more than a decade ago has never been shy about cracking down on the right people.
Satterberg estimated that this effort will cost less than $1 million, and he has enlisted the help of State Sen. Adam Kline and State Rep. Chris Hurst, to introduce a bill in January.
The proposal is to give these young punks a “wake up call” by putting them in detention for 15 weeks on a second offense. Here’s the problem, and it is one that affects every prosecutor in the state, according to Satterberg:
Under current law a juvenile must be convicted of five felonies before a conviction for “Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree” (UPFA 2) results in a sentence at the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) of 15 to 36 weeks. (RCW 13.40.0357).
Current law calls for a mandatory 10 day sentence (RCW 13.40.193) for the first four convictions for UPFA 2nd Degree. Numerous sentencing alternatives exist however, that can make the mandatory 10 day sentence meaningless. Current Washington state law sends a strong message to juveniles that carrying a gun is no big deal.
Juveniles convicted of illegal gun possession will have to serve a mandatory 10 day sentence on their first conviction. Juveniles who have already been convicted of a felony or who are convicted a second time of illegal gun possession will be sent to JRA to serve a sentence of 15 to 36 weeks.
Eliminate sentencing alternatives that permit juveniles to escape serving the mandatory 10 day sentence called for under current law on their first illegal gun possession conviction.
Develop a gun violence education curriculum for juvenile offenders serving sentences for illegal gun possession that offers a realistic lesson on the medical and legal consequences of carrying and using firearms.
Eyebrows went up at the press conference when reporters learned about the five conviction threshold.
“Juvenile thugs who shoot up neighborhoods, injuring or killing innocent bystanders, or who illegally carry guns as an adjunct to their involvement in other criminal activity are no friends of ours, and vice versa,” Gottlieb said.
He was unable to attend the press event in Seattle, but this column was present. Seattle experienced a spike in homicides during the first half of the year. There have been numerous shooting incidents involving teens with guns they could not legally carry. There is no doubt in Satterberg’s mind that juvenile offenders are not discouraged by the present juvenile court situation, which doesn’t even slap their hands hard until they have had multiple offenses.
He suggested that this new approach may put fewer than 100 second-time offenders in extended lockup, but it’s a start. Perhaps it will send a signal to other would-be hoodlums that they need to re-think their choices.
What happens next is for Olympia bean counters to find the money, and that may be the toughest nut to crack. The state budget is extremely tight, Kline indicated, but Hurst and Satterberg look at this as cost-effectiveness at work. It’s cheaper to intervene now and house these offenders for 15 weeks than it will be to lock them up for several years in prison as they graduate to higher crimes.
It’s also better for the community to adjust some attitudes, rather than clean up after one of these guys leaves a bloody mess somewhere.
PLEASE SUBSCRIBE by clicking the link above.
PLEASE FORWARD the link to this column to friends and forums.
Second Amendment Foundation
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Follow on Twitter: