State legislators representing Whatcom County have no specific proposals and in some cases express no clear position on gun regulations as they head into the 2013 session this week.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, whose 40th District includes south Bellingham and southwest Whatcom County, doubts any gun control legislation could pass the Senate because the Republicans have taken control.
Not that he's ready to commit to a position.
"I think we have to have the discussion. I think we have to be very frank and open with this discussion," Ranker said in an interview last week.
Pressed on whether he would support a ban on certain types of weapons or high-capacity magazines, Ranker said, "We need to take a very serious look at it."
A debate over gun laws has persisted at the federal and state levels after the mass school shooting last month in Newtown, Conn. The New York state legislature agreed Monday night - it's first day in session - on a tougher assault weapons ban and provisions to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats. The measure is expected to pass a formal vote Tuesday.
There has been talk among Washington state Democrats of limiting assault rifles or magazines. On the other hand, Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, proposed arming schoolteachers with guns.
But Washington state isn't moving nearly as fast as New York on gun legislation, if it acts at all.
Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, also of the 40th District, is a former school board president who has been focusing on education - one of the high-priority issues of the session.
"I haven't given it a whole lot of thought," Lytton said of possible changes to the gun laws. But she wouldn't support Pike's idea.
"Arming teachers in classrooms is a nonstarter for me," Lytton said. "Having more guns in our schools is not a good thing."
Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, identifies himself as a hunter but had the strongest statement for gun control among his Democratic colleagues in the 40th District.
"Do you really need to have the ability to shoot 500 rounds off in 10 minutes? What I would support is looking at the amount of ammunition, the clip sizes," Morris said.
"I used to be a person who hunted quite a bit. I've never seen anybody hunting with an AK-47," he said.
Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, hasn't claimed any of the positions put forward so far. He doesn't favor specific gun restrictions, and he doesn't want armed guards in schools - a suggestion of the National Rifle Association.
"I'd rather put a new teacher in school than a new armed guard. I wish I had a good answer for it," said Ericksen, whose 42nd District encompasses north Bellingham, the small cities and rural Whatcom County.
Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, said gun violence is a problem best addressed not by government, but by the family and community.
The problem, said Buys, who represents the 42nd District, is that children are sheltered from personal setbacks and emotional difficulties. He criticized the "everyone's a winner" approach to bringing up children. Once these children confront adversity as adults, they can "go crazy," Buys said.
"If people are never exposed to some of these emotional things growing up, or if they're sheltered so much from being let down ... it builds, and when they get into the real world they don't know how to deal with it," he said.
Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Lynden, of the 42nd District didn't respond to requests for an interview. On his 2012 campaign website, Overstreet offered a policy statement on guns:
"Law-abiding citizens should never have to fear losing their right to keep and bear arms," the website said.