“Military-style weapons are designed for killing people,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said at a press conference this week. “These weapons have no place in civilian use.”
Ferguson, who is up for re-election, discussed his intent to work with state lawmakers to ban many widely popular and commonly owned firearms.
“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. My proposal will ban some of the deadliest weapons, while respecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
While Ferguson hasn’t yet drafted the legislation, he said he will use as a template the sweeping bans passed in Connecticut and New York following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. And, according to a press release, the legislation will contain two key elements:
- A ban on semiautomatic weapons with military-style features that render them more easily concealable or more deadly; and
- A limit on magazine capacity — currently unlimited under Washington law — to a maximum of 10 rounds of ammunition.
“I do not propose bills that I do not think I can pass,” he said. “Will this be hard? You bet. Will the gun lobby engage on this issue? Absolutely.”
Ferguson said his ban will not be retroactive in that he won’t try to confiscate firearms already in the hands of law-abiding gun owners. Those firearms will be grandfathered in. Additionally, Ferguson said that he will not require gun owners to register those existing weapons.
This yet-to-be-drafted ban has garnered support from several high-ranking officials, including Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.
“The governor has a record of supporting this type of thing,” Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for the governor told The Seattle Times. Inslee, a former Congressman, voted in favor of the federal ban on so-called “assault weapons” in 1994.
“The attorney general’s proposal is one of many things that we should all be looking at to reduce gun violence,” added Smith.
Likewise, O’Toole jumped behind the ban.
“Individuals should not have easy access to assault weapons,” O’Toole said. “This would be a wonderful prevention tool.”
Naturally, gun-rights advocates were quick to condemn the attorney general’s gun ban agenda.
Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation, said in an email to GunsAmerica, “Unfortunately Washington state has an attorney general that attacks constitutional rights instead of defending them. He is bought and paid for by the gun prohibition lobby.”
Ferguson said he plans on introducing the ban in December.