As gun laws debated, state Capitol welcomes firearms

by Andrew Garber, Seattle Times  |  published on February 11, 2013

For Rep. David Taylor, a gun is like an article of clothing. He wears it everywhere — even on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

“I’ve carried for so long that it’s second nature to me. It’s almost like, if for some reason I don’t have it with me, I feel like I’m missing my wallet,” said Taylor, a two-term Republican from Moxee, Yakima County.

What Taylor does is legal, and he’s not alone. Other state lawmakers say they, too, have carried concealed weapons on the Capitol campus and on the floor. In fact, Washington’s Capitol is one of the few in the country with no restrictions on firearms.

It’s part of the culture in Olympia, something that’s seldom discussed, rarely criticized and speaks volumes about the split between those who oppose most curbs on gun ownership and those pressing for gun-control legislation this session.

Over the years, the state Legislature has proved a friendly place for gun rights. A majority of Washington state lawmakers get high marks from the National Rifle Association, the nation’s dominant pro-gun lobby, according to Project Vote Smart, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group.

Yet in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut in December, gun-rights advocates are having to play defense.

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