Senate passes bill to make childcare facilities gun-free zones

Fortunato, Republicans: Democrats vote to leave children unprotected at childcare centers and criminalize parents with concealed pistol licenses

  • Monday, March 11, 2019 9:45pm
  • News

Childcare facilities would carry the same prohibitions on deadly weapons as K-12 schools, under legislation passed Monday by the Senate.

“When parents send their kids off to school, they expect these facilities and grounds to be safe and secure,” said Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, one of the bill’s sponsors. “The state already prohibits people from possessing firearms on K-12 school campuses. This bill simply extends that same common-sense policy to childcare facilities.”

Wilson, the vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, said Senate Bill 5434 would help keep pre-school-age children safe from the deadly shootings that are spilling into public venues with increasing frequency.

“We should take all reasonable steps to maximize safety at facilities where children learn or are cared for,” Wilson said. “It just makes sense to make sure all our children are safe from firearms and gun violence in what we assume to be safe spaces.”

Wilson’s bill prohibits the possession of firearms on the premises of any licensed childcare center, childcare center provided-transportation, or other childcare center facility. The bill would also require family day care providers to keep any firearm on premises in a locked gun safe or unloaded in a locked room with a trigger lock or other disabling device. In addition, the bill would allow a local government to prohibit possession of a firearm in other popular sites for small children, such as parks and park facilities.

“If firearm prohibitions make sense for our schools, then they make just as much sense for child-care facilities and other areas where small children are likely to learn or play,” Wilson said. “Parents deserve some assurance their children will be safe from deadly gun violence in classic child venues like care facilities and public parks.”

Republicans voiced opposition to the bill.

Second Amendment advocate Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, issued the following statement:

“We protect our money with guns and our politicians with guns, but how do we protect our most precious assets – our children? We put up a sign that essentially says children unprotected at this location.

“This law would criminalize law-abiding citizens taking their children to daycare. Proponents of the bill say it’s about protecting kids, and that they aren’t restricting our Second Amendment rights. They are just saying you can’t legally carry your gun in this place, or that place.”

The proposed law would also require that if a firearm is stored on site, it be unloaded and locked up, “making it as effective as a rock in the event of an incident,” Fortunato said.

Having passed the Senate on a 26-21 vote, the bill now goes to the House for consideration there.

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