While confessed 20-year-old killer Allen Ivanov pulled a life sentence without possibility of parole for murdering three former classmates last summer in Mukilteo, Washington, Evergreen State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and three state lawmakers owe an explanation to gun owners about why they should all be penalized for the crime.
Earlier this week, legislation Ferguson supports that calls for a ban on so-called “assault weapons” was introduced in the Senate by Democrat Sen. David Frockt of Seattle, and in the House by Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds).
Ivanov, at 19, legally purchased a Ruger semi-auto rifle after passing a background check. A week later, after reading the instructions in his car, he walked into a party and opened fire, killing three teens and wounding a fourth. He then drove off and was arrested about 90 minutes later, almost 100 miles away.
According to the Seattle Times, Ivanov at one point during the sentencing hearing, actually blamed “the ease of acquiring a gun” as one reason for his crime. But he also reportedly said “Satan was in control” when he attacked.
But now gun control proponents are using Ivanov’s crime – for which he will spend the rest of his life in prison – as justification for banning ownership of semi-automatic modern sporting rifles. Currently-owned guns would be “grandfathered,” at least for starters (such bans are always incremental) but new sales would be prohibited.
In 2015, the most recent year for available data in the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, rifles were identified as the murder weapon in only 252 of the 9,616 homicides involving firearms across the United States. That same year, 1,544 slayings involved knives or cutting instruments, another 427 were committed with blunt instruments and 623 were committed with hands, feet or fists.
In Washington State, only three of the 141 firearms-related homicides involved a rifle, the FBI data shows.
A new Pew Research report published Wednesday revealed that only 32 percent of police officers responding to a 2016 survey support the notion of banning “assault weapons.” Sixty-four percent of private citizens support such a ban, Pew said.
The same report said 74 percent of police think it is more important to protect gun rights than to control gun ownership, while only 53 percent of the general public think gun rights protections are more important.
Rough estimates suggest there are tens of thousands of Washingtonians who own semi-auto rifles, and even more if one tosses in the semi-auto pistols and rimfire rifles that would also be affected by the ban legislation. They harmed nobody that night last July when Ivanov opened fire. Yet what he did is liable to penalize all of them, with the blessing of the state attorney general.