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Washington AG doubling down on weapon ban

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson introduced two bills Tuesday -- one would make a complete ban on assault weapons in Washington, the other would make it more difficult for people to buy them. (AP)

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson kept his word, introducing a bill that would ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But Ferguson went a step further by announcing a backup bill on the weapon ban.

Ferguson’s alternative to banning the sale of assault weapons would create what he calls “enhanced background checks.”

Related: Why one Republican thinks rifle ban won’t happen

The backup plan would create a new license, similar to a Concealed Pistol License. It would limit assault weapon ownership to people 21 or older. The current age you need to be to buy an assault weapon is 18.

The secondary bill doesn’t go quite as far as Ferguson’s preferred proposal, which would ban weapons such as the AR-15 while limiting magazine capacity to a maximum of 10 rounds of ammunition. There is currently no limit to the size of a magazine in Washington.

Ferguson announced his plan to ban assault weapons in September. The proposed bill followed the deadly shooting at a house party in Mukilteo where a 19-year-old killed three people with an AR-15.

“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 when he announced his plans for the bill. “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.”

Weapon ban for the wrong reasons?

The owner of Pinto’s Gun Shop told KIRO 7 that assault weapons may look “scary,” but there are plenty of other guns that don’t fall under the definition that are “just as deadly.”

“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,” Diana Pinto said.

According to the bill, an “assault weapon” is:
• A semi-automatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine and has one or more features, such as a pistol grip
• A semi-automatic pistol, or semi-automatic, centerfire, or rimfire rifle with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds
• A semiautomatic pistol with one or more features, such as a protruding grip for the non-trigger hand
• A semi-automatic, centerfire, or rimfire rifle that has an overall length of fewer than 30 inches
• A semiautomatic shotgun that has a pistol grip, folding or telescoping stock, and more

You can read the full definition of “assault weapon” here, starting on page 6.

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