December 17, 2009

Shooting deaths prompt semi-automatic gun ban proposal

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Recent shooting deaths in Washington state – including the shootings of police officers –are causing state lawmakers to consider banning semi-automatic weapons.

rita_hibbardwebThree state lawmakers say they will introduce such a measure when the Legislature convenes in January, the Seattle Times reports. The proposal would prohibit the sale of semi-automatic weapons to private citizens and require current owners to pass background checks.   Supporters say the bill is introduced in honor of Aaron Sullivan, an 18-year-old who was fatally shot in July in Seattle, allegedly with an assault-style weapon. In addition, Seattle Police officer Timothy Brenton was fatally shot Oct. 31 with a semi-automatic rifle. His partner was wounded. The bill is backed by Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina; Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle; and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle.

The proposed legislation would cover ban semi-automatics designed for military use that are capable of rapid-fire and can hold more than 10 rounds. Semiautomatics designed hunting purposes would not be included in the measure.

“If they’re used in the army, used in the war — that’s what this ban is about,” said Ralph Fascitelli, the board president of Washington Ceasefire.

Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Week, a publication of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, said such a ban would punish law-abiding citizens who own such guns.

The measure’s supporters don’t make reference to the recent fatal shootings of four Lakewood police officers, apparently killed with a handgun. Still, the deaths point to the mayhem the toxic and tragic combination that guns and the untreated mentally ill can cause, and legislation like this may be a step towards taking control of the streets.

— Rita Hibbard

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