Updated: A Tuesday morning hearing before the Washington State Senate Ways and Means Committee is hearing a new piece of gun control legislation that includes provisions prohibiting the sale of rifles and shotguns with “tactical features” to anyone under age 21.
Opponents were headed to Olympia to testify against the measure, Senate Bill 6620, after the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility – the big bucks gun prohibition lobbying group – sent an email blast Monday declaring, “This life-saving legislation includes good ideas from both sides of the aisle to protect kids, would raise the age limit from 18 to 21 to purchase semi-automatic rifles and strengthen existing law to ensure that it’s no longer easier to buy an AR-15 than a handgun.
“This bill would save lives. It would help prevent future tragedies from taking place.”
There is no evidence that this is true. TVW is airing the hearing.
Here are the provisions of this multi-part legislation that define “tactical features”:
(a) A semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and has one or more of the following:
(i) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
(ii) A thumbhole stock;
(iii) A folding or telescoping stock;
(iv) A second handgrip or a protruding grip that can be held by the nontrigger hand;
(v) A flash suppressor, muzzle break, muzzle compensator, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor, muzzle break, or muzzle compensator;
(vi) A grenade launcher or flare launcher;
(b) A semiautomatic, centerfire, or rimfire rifle with a fixed magazine, that has the capacity to accept more than ten rounds of ammunition;
(c) A semiautomatic, centerfire, or rimfire rifle that has an overall length of less than thirty inches; (d) A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:
(i) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, thumbhole stock, or vertical handgrip;
(ii) A folding or telescoping stock; or
(iii) An ability to accept a detachable magazine;
(e) A shotgun with a revolving cylinder; or
(f) A conversion kit, part, or combination of parts, from which a semiautomatic rifle or shotgun with tactical features can be assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person. “Semiautomatic rifle or shotgun with tactical features” does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.
“Detachable magazine” means an ammunition feeding device that can be loaded or unloaded while detached from a firearm and readily inserted into a firearm.
Matthew Thomas from the Attorney General’s office suggested during testimony that “tactical features” make a firearm more lethal. Other witnesses testified that such firearms need tighter regulation, and there were several people supporting the proposed restrictions, including Deputy Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell, who testified about the Mukilteo shooting in 2016, which was committed by a 19-year-old using a legally-purchased rifle.
NRA spokeswoman Keely Hopkins, firearms instructor Brett Bass and retired sheriff’s detective Bill Burris, speaking for the Gun Owners Action League, opposed the proposed regulations. Hopkins and Bass noted that rifles of any kind are used in a fraction of violent crimes in the Evergreen State.
By some estimates, there may be 12-15 million modern sporting rifles in private hands today. In any given year, they are used in a fraction of all homicides, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report. That report consistently notes that rifles of any kind are used in fewer than 400 murders in any given year. More people are bludgeoned, stabbed, stomped or choked to death.
They are used for all sorts of things including competition and recreational target shooting, predator and varmint control, hunting and home defense. Witness the story from WGN News about an Illinois man who used an AR15 rifle Monday to stop an attack on a neighbor and hold the perpetrator at gunpoint until the police arrived.
The Sutherland Springs, Texas church killer was shot by a private citizen using an AR15 rifle last year.
SB 6620 is sponsored by Senators Andy Billig, Reuven Carlyle, Jeannie Darneille, Manka Dhingra, David Frockt, Karen Keiser, Patty Kuderer, John McCoy and Kevin Ranker. All are Democrats.