Washington Governor Jay Inslee is throwing his weight behind a package of gun control bills that could ban virtually every semi-automatic rifle sold in the United States, magazines that can accept more than ten rounds of ammunition, and a requirement that every sale of ammunition go through a background check.
According to the Kitsap Sun, the package has both Senate and House sponsors lined up, and with the governor’s backing, there will be a great deal of political pressure on rural Democrats to fall in line.
[Attorney General Bob] Ferguson and Inslee want to limit magazines to 10 rounds in Washington state. The bill makes exceptions for law enforcement, military and recreational shooting ranges.
They also want to ban the sale of “assault weapons,” which are defined as semi-automatic guns that contain at least one military-style feature. The measure allows for the possession of grandfathered weapons that were purchased before the effective date of the bill.
Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, will be the main sponsor of the bill in the Senate, and Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, will carry the measure in the House.
“On banning the sale of assault weapons, I’ll be candid: It’s going to be a challenge,” Ferguson said. “We’ve seen that the people are ahead of the politicians on this. I’ll keep fighting for it, because it’s the right thing to do.”
Dave Workman with the Second Amendment Foundation points out that Washington State law already defines “assault weapons,” and any new legislation could conflict with existing law.
Washington passed Initiative 1639 in 2018. The measure made it illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle. It defined these weapons as any rifle that reloads after firing a round when the trigger is pulled, as opposed to a gun that requires the person to open and close a bolt to reload.
Workman said that definition covers every semi-automatic rifle that’s ever been manufactured.
“You press the trigger, the action cycles, slides a new round into the chamber and you’re ready to go bang again,” he said. “It applies to millions of guns.”
Backers of the initiative appeared to be targeting guns that look like military weapons, he said, but instead they swept in most guns out there.
“They function like grandpa’s old shotgun,” he said. Any new legislation involving assault weapons will be impacted by what Workman said was a flawed definition.
In addition to the sweeping gun and magazine bans, Inslee and AG Ferguson are both backing a law that would require background checks on all ammunition sales. California is the only state in the country with such a law on the books, and it’s been an utter disaster, as Ryan Sabelow of the Sacramento Bee recently reported. Tens of thousands of legal gun owners have been denied or delayed in purchasing ammunition, while only about 100 or so prohibited persons have been prevented from acquiring ammunition through a retail establishment.
Now Governor Jay Inslee wants to put this same broken system in place in Washington State. None of these bills would do anything to make Washington safer, but would turn the Second Amendment into a legal fiction; a privilege instead of a right.
At least 20 county sheriffs have already vowed not to enforce some provisions of Washington State’s anti-gun referendum I-1639, which passed in 2019. I’m guessing these sheriffs will be weighing in on Inslee’s new proposals in the not-too-distant future.