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Survey: Washington residents support assault weapons ban

A large majority of Washington voters support an assault weapons ban, according to a new poll. Gun rights advocates say a poll of attitudes is of little value. (AP file photo)

Most Washington residents support stronger background checks for gun purchasers and banning assault weapons, according to a new statewide poll.

Washington Ceasefire, a grass-roots organization working to end gun violence, commissioned the poll which was conducted by a consulting group that represents both Republicans and Democrats.

Overall, the poll found 76 percent of state residents support tighter gun laws.

About 87 percent of Washington residents want better background checks of gun buyers. That means requiring background checks for all firearm purchases, even from private dealers at gun shows.

When it comes to assault weapons, 66 percent support a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Washington Ceasefire’s Ralph Fascitelli says the poll suggests voters are “far ahead of state elected officials who have passed only one gun reform so far in this century, and seems to be struggling to reach a consensus in the current session, even in the wake of Sandy Hook and other recent mass shooting incidents such as Cafe Racer.”

Gun rights activists say there is little value in a poll of attitudes.

“Remember, these are the guys who had the poll back in 1997 that said they were going to win Initiative 676, and they lost nearly 3 to 1,” says Dave Workman, communications director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and a former member of the NRA Board of Directors.

Initiative 676, would have required that trigger locks to be sold with handguns, along with requiring handgun owners to take an eight-hour safety training course.

“The firearms community isn’t opposed to background checks,” Workman tells me, “but they must be immediate, and they can’t involve the creation of a de facto gun owner registry.”

The poll consisted of 600 phone interviews, and has an error margin of plus or minus 4.1 percent.

It also found “widespread confusion” about what gun laws we have in place at present.

For example, over 40 percent of voters and gun owners alike believe Washington already bans assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips. More than 70 percent believe every gun purchase requires a background check.


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