Washington state Democrats are seeking to pull back penalties for drive-by shootings in the state in the name of “promoting racial equity in the criminal legal system.”
Washington state Reps. Tarra Simmons and David Hackney introduced H.B. 1692 this month in an effort to keep charges related to drive-by shootings from escalating to an aggravated first-degree murder charge. The lawmakers, according to Fox News, are seeking to remove a 1995 provision that classifies murders “committed during the course of or as a result of a shooting where the discharge of the firearm … is either from a motor vehicle or from the immediate area of a motor vehicle that was used to transport the shooter or the firearm” as aggravated.
Simmons told Fox she believes “it’s clear that [the original law] was targeted at gangs that were predominantly young and Black” even though historical reports suggest that at the time of the law, “the state was experiencing a surge in gang-related crime.”
“Murder is murder no matter where the bullet comes from but locking young people up and throwing away the key is not the answer,” Simmons said, suggesting that the original provision is an example of “systemic racism.”
Multiple GOP legislators have condemned the legislation as another progressive push to let criminals off the hook as the state struggles to contain its rising crime rates.
“Washington state is already seeing a surge in violent crime, which is currently at a 25-year high, with murders at an all-time high in 2020, up 80 percent from five years ago,” Republican floor leader Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber said in a statement. “Rape is up 40 percent from five years ago and aggravated assaults are up 50 percent from five years ago. In light of this, why are some elected officials so intent on making it easier to be a violent criminal and releasing murderers back onto our streets?”
“Violent crime is on the rise in our communities, in part, because law enforcement officers do not believe under new laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year that they have the authority to detain or pursue individuals, for whom they reasonably suspect have committed criminal acts,” said Rep. Gina Mosbrucker in a press release. “It was reported during the summer that at least nine drive-by shootings in the Yakima area this year have left a trail of injuries, deaths and traumatized neighborhoods. This horrific crime is happening more and more across our state, taking the lives of innocent victims, destroying families, and leaving neighborhoods and communities in fear.”