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Military-style weapons ban proposed in Washington legislature

caption: In this Dec. 9, 2015, photo, a sales associate walks past semiautomatic rifles at Bullseye Sport gun shop in Riverside, Calif.
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In this Dec. 9, 2015, photo, a sales associate walks past semiautomatic rifles at Bullseye Sport gun shop in Riverside, Calif.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

There are renewed calls for gun reform in Washington state this week in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting in which 58 people were killed and hundreds more were injured.

Authorities say among the gunman’s weapons were bump-stocks, devices to make semi-automatic guns shoot more rapidly.

Bills proposed in the Washington state House and Senate would ban most purchases of military-style weapons — such as semi-automatic AR-15 rifles — and outlaw large capacity magazines. Magazines would be limited to 10 rounds of ammunition or less.

State Senator David Frockt is proposing the bill by the request of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Frockt, a Seattle Democrat, said it's frustrating the state Senate hasn't even had a discussion about gun regulations in recent years.

Frockt: "We have laws against stealing, we have laws against assault — that doesn't mean that all assaults and all stealing is prevented. It's not all about the weapon, but it's also wrong to say that the level of lethality and firepower has no impact in these horrible, horrible situations."

He said lawmakers need to address gun violence in strategic phases, including regulating ammunition, addressing child access to firearms and boosting suicide prevention work.

The Seattle nonprofit Washington Ceasefire is backing the proposal. The group’s board president, Ralph Fascitelli, said it would help reduce the number of shooting deaths.

Fascitelli: "These are military-style assault weapons that are marketed as such. They're not hunting tools. Nobody needs a hundred bullets a minute to shoot a deer, and nobody needs a hundred bullet capacity to guard their house."

Last legislative session, Frockt's bill fizzled out in the Senate Law and Justice Committee. It will be back on the table in 2018.

Republican committee chair Mike Padden said it's premature to talk about whether he'd support it next session.

Some gun rights proponents have called the proposal an attempt to repeal the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association has said a ban on military-style weapons would only restrict law-abiding gun owners from being able to defend themselves to the full extent.

Meanwhile, Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen is calling for federal changes. He said he’s urging Congress to pass a ban on military-style weapons and large magazines and for stronger background check laws.

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