Washington

Proposed bill aims to ban assault weapons in Washington

There’s a new push to ban semi-automatic weapons in Washington, and some are hoping it will see through this year’s legislative session.

Some argue this is what Washington desperately needs after a spike in gun violence, but others say it’s a violation of rights.

This is the seventh time that Attorney General Bob Ferguson has proposed a bill like HB 1240.

Democratic Rep. Strom Peterson, representing the 21st District, says the bill promises to regulate certain “assault weapons” and ban their manufacture, import and sale in Washington state.

“This law is complicated, but to me it boils down to a very long list of names,” Peterson told the committee.

That list includes Anna Bui, Jacob Long and Jordan Ebner – who were shot dead at a house party in Mukilteo in 2016 after a man walked in with an AR-15 he legally bought.

“Such tragedies are happening across the country [it] seems every week,” Peterson said.

He says lives are being taken from military weapons.

“I think this bill strikes the right balance,” Peterson said. “This bill is not about hunting down people’s guns. This is a bill whose sole purpose is to limit the continued purchase and expansion of use of these weapons in the state.”

Dave Workman of the Second Amendment Foundation says there’s a bigger problem.

“I don’t think a ban will solve any crime problem in this state at all,” Workman said.

“I hear that, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything,” Ferguson said.

Workman believes that guns are not the problem, rather that those who committed crimes remain incarcerated.

“I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time, we can address the criminal justice challenges that we have as a society, but make sure bad actors don’t have military-style offensive weapons that have wreaked so much destruction on individuals and children in ours.” society,” Ferguson said.

The attorney general says studies show banning semi-automatic rifles will reduce the number of deaths and use of these weapons in mass shootings.

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Nine other states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Maryland, have already banned assault weapons.

“It strikes me as more of a father than an attorney general — to me, that seems like a reasonable approach to addressing gun violence in our society,” Ferguson said.

HB 1240 has already been heard twice in committee.

Ann-Marie Parson supports the bill. Her daughter, Carrie Parsons, was killed in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting when a gunman opened fire at a country music festival attended by hundreds.

A total of 60 people died.

“None of them stood a chance,” Parson said. “Our family will forever live with the knowledge that our daughter was killed and shot in the back while running for her life.”

She is not alone.

Robert Schentrup, a Seattle resident and gun violence survivor, also supports the bill.

He remembers February 14, 2018 like it was yesterday. His two sisters went to school that day, but only one of them came home.

His sister Carmen was killed in the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, she was one of 17 dead.

“We can no longer wait for the next mass shooting to take place, and it’s here; please support this law to keep military weapons out of our communities,” Schentrup said.

While some are in favor of tightening gun regulations, others are not on board.

Dan Mitchell, a Vancouver arms dealer, said when it comes to constitutional rights, there should be no rule or legislation that would overrule them.

“Passing this bill only guarantees statutory bills for the state and does not address the criminal element that is missing from this debate,” Mitchell said.

Robin Ball agrees. She claims HB 1240 does not address the issue of firearm misuse and punishes law-abiding citizens.

“Let’s support law enforcement more to deal with potential dangers before they happen and not punish people like me, my family and so many of my friends who shoot for fun,” Ball said.

“They can’t justify disarming the intended victims and believing that’s going to hit the real criminals out there,” Workman said. “It only looks like you’re doing something when you’re actually not accomplishing anything.”

But there’s a bigger problem, according to Janie Vigil, VP of Aero Precision, a gun manufacturer in Lakewood.

“This law prohibits manufacture and will result in a direct dismissal — in fact, closure — of our facility,” Vigil told the committee.

The impact, she says, would affect her 624 employees, 380 of whom belong to minorities.

“I urge you to stand up for our employees and their families and vote against this law,” Vigil said.

Ferguson says he’s spoken to people on both sides of the issue and is aware of the potential impact on our workforce.

While he expects the bill to exit committee Thursday, he’s confident an amendment will be made to ensure companies like Aero Precision can continue to sell their products out of state.

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“This also strikes me as the right balance between the Second Amendment and public safety,” Ferguson said.

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