Washington State gun control proponents have been a busy bunch at the state capitol in Olympia this week, pushing for a variety of new gun control laws, including a limit on ammunition magazine capacity with bills in both the Senate and House that have drawn plenty of support and opposition.
The hearings came on the heels of a gun rights rally on the Capitol steps, and the massive rally in Richmond, Virginia, where Democrats also control the legislature and are pushing gun control as well.
Anti-gunners were out in force, insisting that magazine limits will save lives, while Second Amendment advocates say otherwise. There was plenty of emotion from gun control proponents, with testimony from people who had lost family members in shootings. On the other side, testimony from firearms experts and instructors, and one woman who survived a home invasion balanced things out. There were frequent references to “common sense.”
But credibility might also be a factor. The Everett Herald spoke with one proponent of the magazine capacity limit because her niece was a victim of Santa Barbara spree killer Elliot Rodger in 2014. Jane Weiss of Snohomish wants cartridge limits because Rodger “used a pistol with a magazine capacity of 15 rounds,” the newspaper said.
However, a check of the news archives revealed that the killer only used California compliant 10-round magazines when he fatally shot three of his six victims. The other three were stabbed multiple times. The proposed limit in Washington is also 10 rounds, but according to a history of the shooting, none of the three shooting victims were hit with more than eight rounds.
Further, according to a summary of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office investigation, Rodger went through three background checks to obtain three different pistols, all in 9mm. He also completed three 10-day waiting periods because he bought the pistols separately from three different retailers.
Another bill would mandate proof of training in order to apply for or renew a concealed pistol license. Washington, at last report from the state Department of Licensing, has more than 646,300 active CPLs. There has never before been such a requirement, perhaps with concerns over constitutionality under the state constitution which protects “the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state.”
A third proposal deals with requiring background checks to purchase ammunition. Firearms retailer Dan Mitchell told a House committee that adding the expense of a background check to an ammunition purchase could make buying ammunition cost prohibitive for law-abiding citizens, while doing nothing to prevent criminals from getting ammunition for guns they also shouldn’t have.
With a 60-day session, Washington’s lawmakers may not have a lot of time to spend on all the legislative gun control proposals now on the table, but it will give the billionaire-backed gun prohibition lobby based in Seattle another opportunity to put together an initiative to be on the ballot in November.