Washington attorney general seeks legislation banning assault weapons

Bob Ferguson said Wednesday he’ll ask lawmakers to introduce a bill next year to prohibit the sale of semi-automatic weapons with certain military-style features.

By Phuong Le

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is seeking legislation to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, saying such weapons are designed for killing people and have no place in civilian use.

Ferguson said Wednesday he’ll ask lawmakers to introduce a bill next year to prohibit the sale of semi-automatic weapons with certain military-style features and prohibit the sale of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Joined by elected officials, community leaders, the parents of shooting victims and others at a news conference in Seattle, Ferguson said banning weapons such as the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle used to kill three young people in Mukilteo in July is constitutional and will save lives.

Leaders who spoke noted that 19-year-old Allen Ivanov, who is charged with the killings, wasn’t able to buy beer but was able to legally purchase the assault weapon about a week before the attack.

Ferguson is working with two Democratic state senators, David Frockt of Seattle and Kevin Ranker of Orcas Island, to draft legislation that will be introduced for the session starting in January.

He said he’ll work to get bipartisan support from lawmakers.

“Will this be hard? You bet. Will the gun lobby engage on this issue? Absolutely,” Ferguson said. “But that certainly does not doesn’t deter me or the people in this room. I believe we can get this done.”

Measures dealing with guns have had difficulty gaining traction in the state Legislature, and gun-safety proponents have turned to the initiative process twice in recent years.

In 2014, Washington voters approved a ballot measure that created universal background checks for all gun sales, including those made online or at gun shows.

In November, voters will decide whether to allow law enforcement or others to obtain court orders to temporarily take guns from people considered a danger to themselves or others.

Initiative 1491, backed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, comes after legislative efforts to create “extreme risk” protection orders failed earlier this year.

Messages seeking comment on Wednesday from the National Rifle Association in Fairfax, Virginia, and the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation were not immediately returned.

A number of states have passed similar legislation banning assault weapons, including New York and Connecticut, Ferguson’s office said.

Washington’s proposal would grandfather in legally owned assault weapons and provide “common sense” exceptions, including for on-duty law enforcement and some target shooting and hunting, Frockt said. It will not propose gun registration, he added.

The parents of Will Kramer, an 18-year-old who was wounded in the Mukilteo shooting, spoke in favor of the ban at Wednesday’s news conference.

“These guns are not used in self-defense,” said Liz Hartley, Kramer’s mother.

She added: “Without a ban on these guns, there will be more mass shootings.”

Kramer’s father, Paul, described the pain the trauma he, his son and others experienced that day.

“I have been heartbroken and shaken to the core of my being with grief and anguish by the recent tragedy in Mukilteo,” he said, adding:

“Believe me, if we have any say, and I believe we do, we want to do what we can to stop this from happening elsewhere.”

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