On April 25thWashington State has taken significant measures to decrease the likelihood of gun violence, including mass shootings, within their jurisdiction. They have implemented three new gun control bills that prohibit certain types of semi-automatic rifles, require a ten-day waiting period between the purchase and receipt of a firearm, and permit lawsuits against gun manufacturers or sellers in specific circumstances. Although the Governor acknowledges that these bills do not solve all issues related to gun violence, they represent a crucial step towards reducing the risk of mass shootings.

From 2015 to 2021, Washington state experienced 31 incidents of mass shootings. Although single victim homicides are more prevalent than mass shootings, the latter often trigger gun reform discussions due to the attention and shock they generate, both locally and globally. In Washington, three new bills have been proposed to prevent similar tragedies from happening again in the “Evergreen State.”

The new bills tackle mass shootings in Washington State

th of May, have been approved and enacted into law.thStarting in April, three additional limitations will be implemented to decrease the likelihood of firearm-related harm.

A ban on certain semi-automatic rifles

The prohibition targets the sale of specific semi-automatic rifles, namely those in the AR and AK styles. These types of firearms possess the ability to inflict significant harm on large groups of individuals in a short amount of time due to their high power, accuracy, rapid firing rate, and accessibility in the US. As a result, they have become the preferred weapon of choice for individuals looking to commit mass shootings, having been utilized in ten out of the 17 deadliest incidents since 2012. Although the ban does not address the underlying issue, it will likely force potential perpetrators in Washington to opt for less lethal alternatives.

The bill’s intent section gives the following reasoning for the ban:

“Assault weapons have been used in the deadliest mass shootings in the last decade. An assailant with an assault weapon can hurt and kill twice the number of people than an assailant with a handgun or nonassault rifle.”

Next, the conservative American right has adopted the AR-15 as a representation. Although the gun is better suited for a battlefield than everyday use in the US, it holds little practical value for the average citizen. Despite this and its association with school shootings and harm to innocent people, republican politicians and supporters still proudly display the weapon.

The glorification of the AR-15 rifle is demonstrated by the support of Republican leaders Lauren Boebert and George Santos for a bill that would designate it as the official firearm of the United States in February 2023. Some conservatives value owning the AR-15 simply for the sake of having it, regardless of the potential harm it may cause.

Manufacturers may face legal consequences while buyers have to wait for ten days.

The latest legislation not only focuses on purchasers but also on producers and vendors. Those who have the ability to supply firearms are now required to take precautions to prevent the sale of weapons to individuals with a history of violence or those who intend to transfer the gun to another person. Additionally, they must ensure that the firearms are produced and marketed in a responsible manner. If they fail to comply with these regulations, manufacturers can be held liable for any future violations or harm through legal action.

The waiting period of ten days mentioned earlier aims to create a gap between individuals in distress and their ownership of a lethal weapon. Additionally, the purchaser must demonstrate proof of completing the mandatory safety training. The intention is to decrease the likelihood of individuals purchasing and utilizing a lethal weapon while experiencing rage or mental instability.

Washington’s gun control bills only a drop in the ocean

As of 2023, 14,427 individuals have died from gun violence in the United States, with an additional 11,412 injured. Although mass shootings receive significant media attention, they only account for a small fraction of total deaths (212 out of 14,427). While prohibiting specific types of semi-automatic rifles may help prevent catastrophic mass shootings, the majority of shootings are carried out with various types of firearms and will likely continue. In 2021, handguns were used in over 6,000 confirmed murders, compared to only 447 with rifles. Although there were an additional 4,740 cases where the firearm type was unknown, it is evident that banning only certain types of semi-automatic rifles is insufficient. Approximately 1.4 million guns were sold in the US last month alone, making it comparable to putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.

The governor who approved the legislation, Inslee, acknowledges that these bills are only a small step towards the goal.

The state of Washington takes action against gun violence, even though they may not solve all the problems. It is unacceptable to be inactive in the face of this issue.

Implementing changes to gun laws in the US is a challenging and slow process.

As America continues to experience frequent incidents of gun violence in schools, supermarkets, churches, and streets, advocates for gun reform should not expect a complete ban on firearms. Although there is significant support for regulations such as background checks for all gun sales, banning assault weapons, and prohibiting the sale of firearms to individuals with mental health issues that may pose a danger (with support levels of 88%, 67%, and 84%, respectively), there is not a strong demand for a widespread ban on gun ownership. Despite this, gun reform activists and supporters remain hopeful that they are making progress towards a future where gun violence is no longer prevalent in the US. These three bills represent a step in that direction.