Washington AG proposes ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is proposing a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Ferguson, joined by a broad coalition of over 50 community leaders and elected officials, announced on Wednesday that he will submit agency request legislation in the 2017 session.

Ferguson’s proposed legislation has 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.

The bill would ban weapons like the AR-15 used to kill three teens and wound another at a party in Mukilteo in July.

“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.”

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>>VIDEO: Gun sales of AR-15 in the state

Ferguson’s proposal targets only sales, grandfathering current gun ownership. The legislation would not require registration of existing weapons.

The proposal will be modeled after successful assault weapon laws in other states, such as New York and Connecticut. The courts have determined these states’ bans to be constitutional.

KIRO 7 asked Ferguson’s office what specific features would be banned under this law. A representative said that the details would be worked out during the legislative process.

Diana Pinto, the owner of Pinto’s Gun Shop, said assault weapons may be getting banned for the wrong reasons.

“They look bad, they look scary. And so that’s what they kind of hone in on, when they don’t realize that again, there’s a lot of firearms out there that maybe don’t look as scary, but they’re just as deadly. They can have as many rounds,” she said.

Pinto would rather see a focus on preventing those who are mentally ill from possessing any guns at all.

“If they can’t get an assault weapon, they would probably get something else, which is horrible. But stop that person from getting something – not just limiting access to one avenue,” Pinto said.

During the 90s, there was a national ban on assault weapons as well as a limit to 10 rounds of ammunition. Pinto said she felt that ban did not have a significantly positive effect.

The federal government’s definition of an assault weapon is defined as a semiautomatic firearm with the ability to accept a detachable magazine and two or more of the following: 

  • A folding telescoping stock
  • A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon
  • A bayonet mount
  • A flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor
  • A grenade launcher

Sen. David Frockt (D-46) and Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-40) are working with Ferguson to craft the legislation.

A recent poll presented by Washington Ceasefire and Ceasefire Oregon showed that 65 percent of adults in the two states — including a great many gun owners — favor an assault weapons ban and want lawmakers to act.

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