Washington state is a very weird place, and not just because Seattle is there.
No, it’s a strange place because, despite its consistent push toward more and more gun control, Washington’s still a “Shall Issue” state when it comes to concealed carry. Whether a state is “shall issue” or “may issue” tends to be a signal as to whether a state is pro-gun or anti-gun, yet Washington’s laws make it impossible to declare that a universal rule.
In recent years, legislators have pushed a lot of gun control. In particular, I-1639, an egregious bill that made its way before voters via a ballot initiative. It had some bad law written in.
Now, the state attorney general wants to ramp it up, and gun rights supporters are digging in for a fight.
Gun rights advocates say they are going to vigorously fight against State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s proposed legislation to ban assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines. But supporters of the bans say they are going to save lives.
“It is promising that more people are aware of this kind of situation and are looking to figure out some sort of common sense laws with gun control,” Steve Munoz of Renton said.
But at Mary’s Pistols, which also sells the rifles and magazines, there is concern that the weapons are being blamed rather than the people.
“We need to address the mental health issues that people claim are the cause of all of these mass shootings,” said gun shop owner Dan Davies. “Obviously the people are the cause, not the objects.”
Gun owner Bruce Rogers worries about the hundreds of thousands law abiding citizens who have these weapons and magazines. “You’re turning them into criminals,” he said. That’s your neighbor, that’s your brother, sister. That’s a lot of people to criminalize.”
Ferguson argues that his proposal will only curtail new sales.
However, I think Ferguson is missing the point entirely. Banning certain magazines won’t accomplish much of anything. Reports state that the Parkland killer only had 10-round magazines during his rampage.
Further, trying to ban so-called “assault weapons” isn’t a winning strategy either. The Heller decision made clear that bans of weapons only extended to unusual and particularly dangerous firearms. While I get that anti-gunners make the case that military-pattern weapons are particularly dangerous, they’re also the most popular firearm in the United States. That makes them decidedly not unusual.
As a state attorney general, Ferguson should be aware of this fact. What he’s doing, though, is counting on the courts to continue to ignore that bit from Heller as they have been.
Frankly, he may be right to do so. Without strict scrutiny being mandated by the Supreme Court–a matter the court may well soon decide on–things will continue as they have. Ferguson’s measure may well survive under those circumstances, which is why it’s so very important for pro-gun activists to do battle on this and to block the legislation before it passes.