By Azeb Tuji
WNPA Olympia News Service
Since September 2016, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson has been working toward implementing gun reform that would prevent acts like the Mukilteo mass shooting on July 30, 2016.
Now, a ban on high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds is on its way to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature.
If signed by the governor, the bill would go into effect on July 1, 2022. It makes manufacturing, importing, distributing and selling large-capacity magazines a gross misdemeanor.
“Today is the fulfillment of years of hard work from so many,” Ferguson said. “More than five years ago, I stood with the parents of shooting victims, legislators, mayors, police chiefs and representatives from faith communities to say enough is enough and proposed banning the sale of high-capacity magazines in Washington state.
“Today, our Legislature chose public safety over the gun lobby, and I am deeply appreciative of their service. This policy will save lives and make our communities safer from gun violence.”
In testifying for the bill, Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Cornell said he responded to the scene of the Mukilteo shooting.
“I saw with my own eyes three beautiful dead children. An AR-15 equipped with a high capacity magazine caused that horror on that day and those magazines continue and will continue to cause horror and pain for those affected by gun violence in our country and in our communities,” Cornell said.
Those opposed, like the Libertarian Party of Washington, said the bill isn’t about safety and will turn millions of law-abiding gun owners into criminals, putting already over-criminalized and marginalized communities at further risk of police abuse.
Similar sentiments were shared during the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee hearing earlier in the session.
“Who will protect us but ourselves?” asked Lisa Chang, who is of Asian descent. “If this bill is passed you’ll see an increase in hate crimes toward someone like me. If this is passed, I’m nothing more than a statistic toward hate crimes against Asians, toward the LGBT community, toward women and toward immigrants.”
Kristin Beneski from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office said advancing the bill will “reduce mass shootings, save lives and make Washington a safer place to live.”
She also spoke to the constitutionality of the bill saying all seven courts of appeals that have considered large capacity bans have found them to be consistent with the Second Amendment.
“For too long we have accepted gun violence as an inevitable part of life,” said Sen. Marko Liias D-Everett, prime sponsor of the bill.
“My own community was impacted by gun violence in 2016 when three young lives were lost due to a mass shooting. Today, the Legislature took long-overdue action to protect families across Washington from that harm by restricting the sale of high-capacity magazines. This is a common-sense policy that will save lives, and I am grateful for all of the years of advocacy that led to its passage.”