Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign ban on dozens of semi-automatic rifles that cleared the legislature on Wednesday, reports the Associated Press. High-powered firearms, once banned nationwide, are now the weapon of choice among people responsible for most mass shootings. The ban comes after multiple failed attempts in the legislature, amid the most mass shootings during the first 100 days of a calendar year since 2009. The Washington law would block the sale, distribution, manufacture, and importation of more than 50 gun models, including AR-15s, AK-47s, and similar-style rifles. These types of guns fire one bullet per trigger pull and automatically reload for a subsequent shot. Exemptions of the ban apply to law enforcement agencies and the military. The measure does not bar the possession of weapons by people who already have them. Inslee has long advocated for such a ban.
After the bill passed, Inslee said the state of Washington “will not accept gun violence as normal.” He said lives will be saved because of the semi-automatic rifle ban and two other measures the legislature approved: one that introduced a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases and another to hold gunmakers liable for negligent sales. Republicans opposed the ban, with some contending school shootings should be addressed by remodeling buildings to make them less appealing as targets and others saying it infringes on people’s rights to defend themselves. The ban "clearly violates our state and federal constitutions, which is why it will end up in court immediately,” Sen. Lynda Wilson said. Nine states, including California, New York, and Massachusetts, along with the District of Columbia, have already passed similar bans, and the laws have been upheld as constitutional, said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. During the debate, Democrats spoke of frequent mass shootings that have killed people in churches, nightclubs, grocery stores, and schools. Sen. Liz Lovelett said kids’ concerns about school shootings need to be addressed. “They are marching in the streets. They are asking for us to take action,” she said. “We have to be able to give our kids reasons to feel hopeful.”