Rep. Jim Walsh issues statement regarding his refusal to vote on controversial gun bill

The Washington State House of Representatives recently debated and voted on Senate Bill 5038, which seeks to restrict the open carry of firearms.

Rep. Jim Walsh, the ranking Republican member on the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, led the more than five-hour debate on the bill. Walsh and his House Republican colleagues argued the measure violates Article 1, Section 24, and other sections of the Washington State Constitution, as well as various sections of the U.S. Constitution.

During debate on Amendment 467, which inserts an emergency clause that implements the underlying bill immediately after becoming law, Walsh expressed skepticism that parts of Senate Bill 5038 were made at the request of the Washington State Patrol (WSP). It was later learned that WSP had in fact remained neutral and not requested those controversial elements.

At the conclusion of discussion on the bill, Walsh refused to vote, stating that the proposal was unconstitutional. Regarding that action, the 19th District lawmaker issued the following statement:

“After a long and vigorous debate, it became clearer than ever to me that Senate Bill 5038 is unconstitutional. Although House rules require every member to vote on every bill that reaches the floor, I felt in that moment that it was time to take a principled stand. So, I refused.

“Since questioning the false narrative that WSP requested certain parts of the measure and refusing to vote, I've been overwhelmed with support from Washingtonians fed up with Olympia's recent actions. It's surprising how many people, not only from my district and other areas of the state but even King County and downtown Seattle, that have called, emailed, or communicated with me on social media expressing their support.

“There were a handful of critics who think I should have voted 'hell no!' or something like that. But almost all have thanked me for drawing a line. They're weary of the broken status quo in Olympia and the erosion of their constitutional and foundational rights.”

Senate Bill 5038 was approved on a party-line vote of 57 to 40. The amended bill now goes to the Senate, where legislators will decide to concur or not with the House's amended version of the proposal. If they agree with the changes, it will head to the governor's desk for signature and will immediately become law.

To see a video that includes Walsh's refusal to vote click here.


Washington State House Republican Communications