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Juvenile weapon offenders up since 2014 gun control initiative

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(The Center Square) – The number of juveniles arrested for weapon violations has increased in almost every age group since a 2014 initiative restricted people under 21 from purchasing or possessing certain firearms.

Initiative 1639, enacted by voters in 2014, added new gun control regulations that included:

Requiring a background check and firearms safety training for semi-automatic riflesRestrictions on the sale, purchase, possession, and transfer of semi-automatic rifles to residents under the age of 21Prohibiting a person under the age of 21 from purchasing a pistol

The year the state put the initiative to voters, there were 3,819 weapon law violation offenses reported, according to data from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, or WASPC. The were a total of 1431 arrests. Of those, 207 or 14.5% were juveniles.

In 2022, the number of weapon violation offenses had almost doubled to 6,880 reported. Of the 1,893 arrests, 232, or 12.3%, were juveniles. The number of offenders has increased since I-1639 in every age group below the age of 21, with 505 offenders 15-17 years old in 2022 compared to just 132 in 2014. The number of 13-14-year-old offenders increased from 53 in 2014 to 145 in 2022, and those 11-12-year-olds had 43 offenders in 2022 compared to 19 in 2014.

The largest age demographic increase for weapon law offenders was people between 30-34, with 1,119 offenders in 2022 compared to just 209 in 2014.

Additionally, the number of firearms involving a weapon law violation also increased from 58.3% in 2014 to 72.6% in 2022. The type of weapon law violations remained decreased slightly, with illegal possession or concealment in 78.89% of violations in 2014 compared to 75.2% in 2022.

WASPC crime reports do not track what type of firearm was specifically involved in weapon law violations or what type of firearm was found on a juvenile at the time of the offense.

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