Second Amendment activists in Washington State will rally Friday morning at the state capitol in opposition to “assault weapons ban” legislation proposed by Democrat state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and now sponsored by state Sen. David Frockt (D-46th District) as SB 5050.
This new gun control effort has put the Evergreen State in the national spotlight because of a growing belief that the gun ban legislation may be expected to fail in the Legislature, but provide a launch pad for an anti-gun citizen initiative funded by wealthy elitists. If it works in Washington, it will be tried elsewhere, same as “universal background check” initiatives.
Ferguson has a backstop proposal that calls for licensing of “assault-style” weapons and extensive background checks for owners.
A Seattle Times story on Ferguson’s two pieces of legislation had attracted more than 880 reader comments by Wednesday morning.
Ferguson appears to be ignoring what might be some challenging facts. 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, according to the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report.
In 2015, the most recent year for data is available 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.
Ferguson’s backup measure requiring licensing, waiting periods and a minimum purchase age of 21 rather than 18 as allowed under federal law is being called a worse idea than an outright ban. It carries criminal penalties for violations. Rights advocates contend that neither proposal will prevent a single crime, while gun control proponents seem to like Ferguson’s proposals.
Friday’s rally is being sponsored by the Gun Rights Coalition. It 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. A team of volunteers will help people find their representatives’ offices.
Ferguson’s backup bill includes this licensing language:
“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. Applications will require two complete sets of fingerprints.
While the legislation is being advertised as an “enhanced background check” and licensing bill, critics contend this is a precursor to a ban and even confiscation.
Ferguson’s ban proposal seeks to outlaw future sales of “assault style weapons,” as described by the Seattle Times in its lead paragraph. The contention from gun prohibitionists that “nobody wants to take your gun” immediately lost all credibility, gun rights activists argue.
Critics contend that Ferguson’s proposal bans a firearm based solely on cosmetics. The proposal 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.
There may be no accurate estimate of the number of semi-auto rifles owned by Washington gun owners. During the past eight years of Barack Obama’s administration, sales have been brisk. There appears little doubt that these new proposals will fuel those sales.