On very short notice, grassroots Second Amendment activists in Washington State—one of two key gun rights battlegrounds this year—turned out in good numbers to oppose a last-minute attempt by state House Democrats to pass a ban on so-called “high capacity magazines” that hold more than 15 rounds.
According to Curtis Bingham, moderator at the Washington 2020 Legislative Action Group’s social media page, there were “at least three overflow rooms” suggesting at least 200 people attended the Tuesday hearing on House Bill 2947.
Timing was crucial since the legislation was hastily introduced only a few days ago after a previous effort to ban magazines failed to make an important cutoff as opponents stacked some 120 proposed amendments on, all of which had to be debated. The hearing was held before the House Finance Committee.
Many rights activists donned bright yellow T-shirts bearing the simple message “NO!” to counter the red T-Shirts worn by members of the Moms Demand Action gun control lobbying group. The T-shirts were made available by the Washington State Firearms Coalition. Perhaps the most probing question came from Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-20th District) who asked the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Javier Valdez, a Seattle Democrat, why anyone would think a criminal intent on causing mayhem might be expected to abide by a law limiting magazine capacity. Valdez admitted he couldn’t explain why, instead shifting focus to his hope passage of the legislation would prevent future tragedies in the state.
There was compelling testimony from both supporters and opponents of the legislation, which includes a provision for a “buyback” conducted by the Washington State Patrol, provided funding is available.
But a look at annual crime data from the FBI shows rifles of any kind, including semiautomatic rifles, are used in a fraction of all homicides, in Washington or anywhere else in the nation.
While this hearing was in progress, the nation’s most notable gun control advocate, billionaire Michael Bloomberg now running for president as a Democrat, was blasting social media with a bizarre offer of a free bandana to anyone who would provide their email address. The advertisement suggested viewers liked free stuff, which has become campaign fodder for Sen. Bernie Sanders and distant rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Bloomberg has been dumping millions of dollars into gun control efforts, and the Everytown for Gun Safety gun control lobbying group, launched by him with $50 million has promised to spend at least $60 million this year in efforts to flip legislatures to be more friendly to gun control.
There is no way to predict whether HB 2947 will make it through both houses of the Legislature before the session ends early next month. Gun control proponents are pushing hard, and Democrats are in control, but there is an election in nine months, and gun owners will have long memories and plenty of time to find challengers to make it tough for some Democrats in swing districts to survive November.
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