Senate Bill 5217 Assault Weapons Ban bill, Washington state

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Senate Bill 5217 Assault Weapons Ban bill, Washington state

Post by LT »

Introduced in the Senate. No doubt we will see a companion bill in the House soon. This bill will make it illegal to sell, buy, or transfer any centerfire rifle defined as an assault weapon, a definition based on cosmetic features such as pistol grip or thumbhole stock, flash suppressor, threaded barrel,
or foregrip. It would also be illegal for anyone currently owning it to take it out of their house OTHER than to a range or other legal outdoor recreational shooting activity such as hunting.

Here's the link to the bill itself:

Here's the letter I wrote to Senator Ericksen. I would encourage you to send letters and make phone calls. Even though the Democrats have majorities in both houses of our Legislature, there are Democrats who are respectful of the rights of the people. I can tell you from experience that it is a lot easier to stop a bill from passing than it is to overturn it later. (Motorcycle helmet law anyone?). Feel free to use or plagiarize any part of my letter, or write your own. I've also included the original document as an attached Word file so that you can download and edit if you prefer, rather than trying to copy and paste.


To: Doug Ericksen
P.O. Box 40442
Olympia, WA 98504-0442

Subject: SB5217 Assault Weapons Ban

Dear Senator Ericksen,
I am looking over legislation that was recently introduced into the Senate, namely Senate Bill SB5217 concerning so called assault weapons. I am writing to ask you to actively oppose this legislation. The rest of this letter contains details on what is commonly mis-characterized as an “assault rifle” and why this legislation is unnecessary and pointless.

Fact/Misconception 1: An assault rifle is a regular rifle with added accessories that make it more accurate and easier to shoot. It is not a “military” rifle as those rifles, with an automatic fire selector, have been heavily restricted for civilian possession since 1934 and further restricted since 1968.

Fact/Misconception 2: The accessories that result in an “assault” rifle classification tend to be those which are desirable from a shooter’s perspective. For example,
  • A pistol grip makes a rifle easier to control when shooting, a valuable trait for competitive shooting, hunting, and self defense. Foregrips serve the same purpose.
    • A thumbhole stock is another variation on the pistol grip and was added to the definition when shooters started adopting them in response to the ban on pistol grips.
    • A flash suppressor helps prevent spark that can cause fires and helps prevent deteriorated vision in lower light conditions (such as hunting in the early hours of a winter day). Most flash suppressors are also designed to help with muzzle rise (also known as a muzzle brake or compensator), which increases accuracy.
    • Sound suppressors, legal to own and use in Washington state (although this legislation will prohibit the sale or transfer of firearms that are designed to use them), reduce noise pollution, community impact from hunting and shooting activities, and hearing damage. It is interesting to note that sound suppressors (the name silencer is a misnomer, by the way, since no device can make a rifle silent) are encouraged and often required for shooting ranges in Europe.
    • Telescoping stocks make rifles customizable to the shooter, since people have different body shapes and sizes. These stocks allow a shooter to adjust the rifle to the optimal distance from their eyes.
Fact/Misconception 3: These rifles, because they are defined by their accessories are no more lethal or dangerous than any rifle chambered in the same caliber that does not have these features. The .223 round, one of the most commonly used rounds in American recreational and competitive shooting, can be used in many rifles including the AR-15. Both the rifle and the cartridge were designed by Eugene Stoner at Armalite in 1957. If a firearm is defined as “military style” because it uses a particular cartridge, there would be few, if any, allowable civilian calibers. The military currently uses .223, .308, 30-06, 9mm, 40mm, and 45mm, as well as various shotgun rounds.
Fact/Misconception 4: It has been often claimed that these rifles are not in common use. In fact the AR-15 (a specific brand from Armalite which has been often copied as “AR-15 type” rifles) is one of, if not the, most common and popular rifles in America today. My wife, at 5’2” and 120 pounds, loved her AR-15 type rifle because it was easy for her to handle and shoot whereas the other rifles we owned in larger calibers were far more difficult for her.

Fact/Misconception 5: It is often claimed that these rifles are more deadly because of their high rate of fire. The reality is that they shoot once per trigger pull, just like any other rifle without the features that define them as “assault” rifles. It has been claimed by politicians and the media that these rifles can shoot anywhere between 500 and 1,000 rounds per minutes. This would require that the trigger be pulled 8 or more times per second, not even considering the time it takes to reload.

Fact/Misconception 6: These rifles are often claimed to be particularly deadly because of their powerful rounds. Since the definition of assault rifle adopted by the media and politicians is based on cosmetic features and accessories, these rifles can’t be any more powerful than any similar rifle without the same features. Centerfire rifles can and are chambered in everything from .14 (smaller than a 22 rifle) to 50 caliber. They can be single fire, bolt action, or semi-automatic. The type of action does nothing to increase or decrease the power of the round being fired.
Fact/Misconception 7: These rifles have “high capacity” magazines. The definition of high capacity is completely arbitrary and chosen for political reasons. I have rifles which have standard magazine capacities of anywhere from 5 to 30 rounds. I have pistols which have standard magazine capacities of anywhere from 7 to 21 rounds. None of these are high capacity, they are standard capacity, in other words “came from the factory with”. The word high was clearly chosen to make them sound worse than they are. In fact Gary Kleck has done significant research which shows that larger magazine capacity does not produce more lethal outcomes in mass shootings.

If you have further questions about the rifles or pistols that millions of Americans choose for recreational and competitive shooting, hunting, or self-defense, please feel free to reach out. I would also be happy to make arrangements for you come to a local range at some point and shoot with a trained and experienced shooter if you have not and if you are interested in trying it for yourself.

SB 5217.docx
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