While Evergreen State Second Amendment activists had already planned a rally on the capitol steps in Olympia this Friday, with Monday’s debut of proposed gun control legislation by Democrat Attorney General Bob Ferguson, they now have a specific target.
Already, the Seattle Times story on Ferguson’s two pieces of legislation – one calling for an outright ban on so-called “assault style weapons” and the other a backup measure requiring licensing, waiting periods and a minimum purchase age of 21 rather than 18 as allowed under federal law – had drawn more than 600 responses by Tuesday mid-morning. Rights advocates contend that neither proposal will prevent a single crime, while gun control proponents seem to like Ferguson’s proposals. Reader reaction appears heavily tilted away from either Ferguson proposal.
Friday’s rally is being sponsored by the Gun Rights Coalition. The fact that it will be held on Friday the 13th doesn’t seem to concern anyone. The rally is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon, and people who attend will be able to contact their district representatives while they’re in town. There will be a team of volunteers to help people find their representatives’ offices.
Ferguson’s backup bill seems more onerous to activists than the ban proposal. It will require licensing:
“A person shall not possess, manufacture, transport, purchase, distribute, import, sell, or offer to sell an assault weapon or large capacity magazine without being in possession of an assault weapon license issued pursuant to section 3 of this act. The assault weapon license must list each assault weapon or large capacity magazine currently in the license holder’s possession. An assault weapon listed must include the make, model, and manufacturer’s number. A large capacity magazine listed must include a description including the make, caliber, and capacity of the magazine.”
Under this legislation, a so-called “assault weapon’ may not be sold or transferred to anyone other than a licensed dealer, federally-licensed gunsmith or law enforcement.
An “assault weapon” license cannot be issued to anyone under age 21, and the applicant must show proof that he/she has completed a recognized firearm safety training program within the last three years.
License applications must include two complete sets of fingerprints.
While the “backup” legislation is being advertised as an “enhanced background check” and licensing bill, critics contend this is a precursor to a ban and even confiscation.
And it contains something else. A person who “knowingly violates” provisions of the licensing law would be guilty of a Class C felony, and thus lose his/her rights to own or possess any kind of firearm.
Ferguson’s ban proposal is just that, a scheme to outlaw future sales of “assault style weapons,” as described by the Seattle Times in its lead paragraph. But just what is an “assault-style weapon?” Critics argue that this translates to banning a firearm merely based on cosmetics; if it “looks menacing” it is a bad gun.
But this ignores the fact that these firearms function essentially the same as any semiautomatic sporting shotgun or rifle that does not have the cosmetic features. The technology has been around for more than a century.
Rifles of any kind, regardless of mechanical function, are used in a fraction of the homicides in Washington State, same as anywhere in the country.
In 2015, the most recent year for available data in the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, rifles were identified as the murder weapon in only 252 of the 9,616 homicides involving firearms. That same year, 1,544 slayings involved knives or cutting instruments, another 427 were committed with blunt instruments and 623 were committed with hands, feet or fists.
In Washington, only three of the 141 firearms-related homicides involved a rifle, the data shows.
There may be no accurate estimate of the number of semi-auto rifles owned by Washington gun owners, but over the past eight years during Barack Obama’s administration, sales have been brisk.
Ferguson’s proposal is likely to fuel those sales even more.