Washington State Assault Weapon Ban Stalled

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Washington state has fully embraced gun control. While that’s just the product of the more urban enclaves, those still represent more than enough people to sway which way the winds blow in the state.


Despite that, it seems the state’s assault weapon ban proposal has managed to stall.

Democrats in the state Legislature are advancing new targeted gun restrictions, but so far their broadest measure — a ban on assault weapons — has stalled.

As of last Tuesday, restrictions aimed at domestic violence perpetrators, individuals found incompetent to stand trial, and subjects of restraining or protective orders had all moved toward full-chamber votes in the Legislature, along with a proposal restricting undetectable plastic guns.

But only one major proposal for a new restriction that would apply broadly to all gun owners, rather than singling out a specific group, had made it as far: A proposed ban on high-capacity magazines.

“Whenever you have a more broad piece of legislation dealing with gun restrictions, you are going to have more challenges,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer, a Bellevue Democrat and sponsor of the assault weapons ban in the Senate.

The assault weapons ban is unlikely to go further this year, Kuderer said, in part due to concerns that it might conflict with I-1639, the 2018 initiative raising the age limit and adding other restrictions for assault rifles in the state.

But even without the conflict, she added, it likely would have faced tougher opposition because of its breadth.


In other words, the Democrats aren’t sure they have the support for it.

It’s interesting that this is a state that has managed to support gun control in so many forms, yet Democrats aren’t sure they can garner the support for a true assault weapon ban.

Why would that be?

For one, we had a federal assault weapon ban for a decade and guess what? It didn’t do a damn thing. While crime dropped during that decade, it was trending downward years before the ban and continued downward after the ban sunset. That’s a clear indicator of the uselessness of the ban.

Additionally, it wasn’t all that long ago. People remember those days far too well.

More than that is the fact that Washington state Democrats are already facing resistance on I-1639 from counties which vowed the law wouldn’t be enforced within their borders. This was a law passed through a ballot initiative; in theory, a direct voice of the people. If they’re facing such staunch resistance over a ballot initiative, how much resistance would a law passed in Olympia get?

While I think that will only stay their hand for a period of time, it’s something anti-gun lawmakers have to consider. The last thing any of them benefit from is passing a law that no one outside of Seattle and a couple of other places will bother to pay any attention to. Not only will it undermine the purpose of the law, but it paints lawmakers as irrelevant.


Further, if crime rates don’t skyrocket in those defiant counties, it’ll likely solidify the pro-gun rights agenda in the minds of many.

In their mind, it’s better not to take those steps than to be shown how useless they are in the first place.

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