As of Thursday, September 15, 2016
OLYMPIA Five weeks after an AR-15 rifle was used in a Mukilteo shooting, the state attorney general is using the tragedy as the impetus for his political effort to ban the sale of military-style weapons.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced his plan yesterday for a legislative push to ban so-called “assault weapons” and high-capacity clips.
“My proposal will ban some of the deadliest weapons, while respecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms,” he said.
Ferguson’s political move comes in the wake of the July 30 shooting in Mukilteo in which Allen Christopher Ivanov, 19, shot and killed three of his school mates using an AR-15 he had recently purchased.
“The recent tragedy in Mukilteo drives home the need to act with urgency to end the availability of weapons designed with only one purpose — to kill people,” Ferguson said. “I have a duty to protect the public, as well as uphold the constitution.
Ferguson said he plans to ask the Legislature to consider a bill in the next session that would ban semiautomatic weapons “with military-style features that render them more easily concealable or more deadly.”
He said the bill will also include a provision limiting the number of bullets a clip — or magazine — can hold.
Ferguson wants that limit to be 10 rounds of ammunition even though guns are designed for different capacities and clips are available legally that can carry 50 or more rounds.
The attorney general has Sens. David Frockt, D-Seattle, and Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, on his side.
Gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant said yesterday he would withhold judgment on the proposal until after he sees how “assault weapon” is defined.
Earlier this year, Bryant said he believed most resident were confused by the terminology.
According to Bryant, many residents think an assault weapon means a fully automatic firearm. Automatic firearms, sometimes dubbed machine guns, are generally illegal in the U.S. under federal law.
Ferguson claims his proposal will save lives.
According to Ferguson, a review of mass shootings between January 2009 and January 2013 by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that incidents where assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines were used resulted in 135 percent more people shot and 57 percent more killed, compared to other mass shootings.
Ferguson points out that in 2014, Pacific University student John Meis tackled a gunman with a double-barrelled shotgun when he stopped to reload.
The attorney general isn’t the first to push for an assault weapons ban.
The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act was approved by Congress on Sept. 13, 1994.
The bill banned the sale and manufacture of so-called “assault weapons,” as well as large capacity ammunition clips. The ban expired in 2004 and was never renewed.
Critics of efforts to ban military-style weapons point out that there are already laws banning the sale of automatic weapons and that most firearms are semi-automatic and include multi-round magazines.
They point out that the differences between a semi-automatic firearm and an “assault weapon” are merely cosmetic, opening the door for government agencies to try to prohibit the sale, manufacture, purchase and use of most firearms in production in the U.S. today.