Democrat lawmakers in three states, including Washington, have introduced legislation that would ban possession of so-called “assault weapons” with criminal penalties under certain circumstances, and also provide for their surrender to law enforcement.
Two other states where such legislation is being pushed are California and Missouri. Measures introduced in all three states mirror the national gun prohibition efforts being spearheaded by Senator Dianne Feinstein and supported by President Barack Obama. The firearms community is sounding alarms, and on Thursday, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre threw down the gauntlet, promising that gun owners will “stand and fight.”
Washington’s bill, SB 5737, sponsored by anti-gun Seattle Democrats Ed Murray, Adam Kline and Jeanne Kohl-Wells, contains a provision that mandates the permanent disabling or surrender to the police of a so-called “assault weapon” that might be acquired by “inheritance, bequest or succession” within 30 days of taking possession.
It prohibits the manufacture, possession or sale of “assault weapons” – defined as semiautomatic rifles or pistols, pump-action rifles or shotguns with certain cosmetic features that are capable of accepting detachable magazines capable of holding ten or more rounds – and would make violations a Class C felony.
In Missouri, according to The Blaze and the National Rifle Association, House Bill 545 is sponsored by Democrat Reps. Rory Ellinger (D-86) and Jill Schupp (D-88). If it becomes law as written, it would mandate that such firearms be moved out of the state, rendered permanently inoperable or surrendered to police for destruction. Failure to do so would be a Class C felony.
In California, according to the San Jose Mercury News, Democrats are pushing a package of measures “that would regulate and tax ammunition sales and consider taking the state's 166,000 registered assault weapons from their owners.”
People in the gun rights community, including some in law enforcement, privately observe that sponsors of this kind of legislation “have no idea” of the backlash they are courting. Equally disturbing to law enforcement contacts is the fact that some police administrators fuel this foolishness with their own anti-gun rhetoric that anti-gun politicians quickly accept as gospel.
One of these is Ken James, chief of police in Emeryville, Calif., who was captured on YouTube during a press conference supporting tougher gun laws in the Golden State. According to The Blaze, he chairs the Police Chief Association’s Firearms Committee. He contends that “A gun is not a defensive weapon.”
“A gun is an offensive weapon used to intimidate and show power,” he asserted. “Police officers don’t carry a gun as a defensive weapon to defend themselves or their other officers. They carry a gun to be able to do their job in a safe and effective manner and face any oppositions we may come upon.”
This remark has infuriated gun owners, and the law enforcement officer who brought it to this column’s attention.
One organization monitoring this activity is the newly-created Firearms Policy Coalition, a cooperative project of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Second Amendment Foundation, and the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees. Californian Brandon Combs heads this effort.
There is an uneasy mood in the firearms community, a genuine concern that the gun rights issue is “coming to a head.” Rhetoric is ramped up, and that is being exacerbated by the introduction of measures like Washington’s Senate bill.
While SB 5737 probably has little chance of passage this session, just one incident – even if it happens in another state – could change that. Some believe that Murray, Kline and Kohl-Wells waited until well into the session to introduce their package, pandering to their liberal Seattle base with no serious expectation of passage.
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