Earlier this month, Washington State Senator Phil Fortunato (Republican, Washington 31st Legislative District), published his official newsletter with “updates” on two bills currently under consideration in the 2023 legislative session. However, the senator’s statements grossly misrepresent these critical bills which would protect the wellbeing and mental health of at risk LGBTQIA youth living in shelters, and deter future mass shootings in our state.
As board members of Washington state’s 31st Legislative District Democrats, our mission is to ensure that local voters are equipped with fact-based information about policies and bills that will directly affect our lives. Sen. Fortunato has dangerously distorted the facts about what these bills actually propose, with fear mongering rhetoric designed to confuse and agitate his constituents—aka, you and me.
For instance, regarding Senate Bill 5599 (Supporting Young Adults Seeking Protective Care), contrary to Fortunato’s misleading statements, shelters will still be required to inform families when a child comes into their care in the majority of cases.
However, there is already an exception to this notification rule if the child shows signs of parental abuse or harm, and this bill does not change that. SB 5599 creates an exception when a child is at risk, and is seeking reproductive health care services or gender affirming care. We know that trans youth who do not have a supportive environment at home are more likely to consider suicide.
This bill seeks to ensure that at-risk youth have access to safe and supportive community services when navigating a complex times in their lives. The bill provides for appropriate clinical care by professionals.
Fortunato’s assertions against access to abortion and gender affirming care, intended to frighten and mislead parents, ignore the fact that early stages of this type of care includes accurate counseling and gradual transitional changes, such as a haircut or a change in pronouns. Reproductive health care is always safest when provided in a clinical environment.
Addressing Senate Bill 5078, Sen. Fortunato is way off-base and out of touch with the majority of WA voters. The proposed bill seeks to eliminate “straw man” gun purchases and ban the sale of high capacity magazines. Yet Fortunato states that, “Problems with gun violence and crime in Washington are not caused by law-abiding citizens. It’s a cumulative effect of bad laws and a judicial system that lets hardened criminals off the hook when they have guns they aren’t legally allowed to possess anyway.”
But data on Washington state gun violence tells a more complex story: 75% of gun deaths in our state are the result of suicide, 20% are domestic-related homicides.(WA Alliance for Gun Responsibility)
The Senator also claims this bill will cause the gun manufacturers and dealers in Washington State “to go out of business.” That is patently false. SB 5078 would ban the sale and distribution of gun magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The national guard and law enforcement are exempt from this proposed rule change. Since sales of these items to ordinary citizens do not constitute the bulk of this industry’s business in the state, they won’t ‘go out of business.’ Pharmaceutical companies in Washington don’t go out of business because they can only sell their products to legal customers; it’s no different for gun manufacturers.
Sen. Fortunato also claims that holding gun manufacturers responsible for selling high-capacity magazines to people who should not have them is “…akin to making car manufacturers and dealers liable for drunk drivers.”
This is more of the senator’s distorted rhetoric. Using his own rationale: cars are manufactured and sold for the sole purpose of transportation. Causing injury or death — either accidentally or when driving under the influence— is not the primary purpose of a car’s intended use. Consequently— all car manufacturers must comply with basic safety regulations such as installing vehicle seat belts; we’ve passed laws requiring drivers to use these restraints to SAVE lives.
This is basic common sense.
Hi-capacity magazines, in contrast, are manufactured and sold for the sole purpose of firing sustained bursts of lethal rounds, with the express intent of hitting —and potentially killing —multiple targets in a matter of seconds. Common sense dictates that we should pass similar safety measures—as we have with cars— to prevent unnecessary injury or death: To save lives.
These two bills can and will save lives! Don’t just take our word for it—we encourage all eligible Washington voters to read both of these bills for themselves (available at the Washington Legislature website). It only takes a few minutes to become fully informed, for your own sake and for the sake of your community.
As Thomas Jefferson famously forewarned, “A properly functioning democracy depends on an informed electorate.”
Washington’s 31st Legislative District Democrats, Executive Board