A ban on dozens of semi-automatic rifles cleared the Washington state Legislature on Wednesday and the governor is expected to sign it into law.
The high-powered firearms — once banned nationwide — are now the weapon of choice among young men responsible for most of the country’s devastating mass shootings.
The ban comes after multiple failed attempts in the state’s Legislature, and 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 guns fire one bullet per trigger pull and automatically reload for a subsequent shot. Some exemptions are included for sales to law enforcement agencies and the military in Washington. The measure does not bar the possession of the weapons by people who already have them.
The law would go into effect immediately once it’s signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who has long advocated for such a ban. When the bill passed the state House in March, Inslee said he’s believed it since 1994 when, as a member of the U.S. Congress, he voted to make the ban a federal law.
After the bill passed, Inslee said the state of Washington “will not accept gun violence as normal.”
Inslee said lives will be saved because of the semi-automatic rifle ban and two other measures approved by the Legislature this session: one that introduced a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases and another to hold gunmakers liable for negligent sales.