Murray backs bill banning assault weapons

Bill would require background checks on future gun sales

By Katy Sword, Columbian staff writer

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Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., joined 22 other Democratic senators Wednesday to introduce a bill that would ban assault weapons.

“While there’s no one solution to the epidemic of gun violence, it’s past time for Congress to take common sense steps to strengthen critical safeguards and stem the tide of rising gun violence plaguing our communities,” Murray said in a press release.

The bill would ban the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 named military-style assault weapons, although current owners of weapons could keep them.

The bill also bans any assault weapon that uses a detachable magazine and has at least one military characteristic, including a pistol grip, threaded barrel or telescoping stock. Again, owners of weapons matching these descriptions could keep them.

Magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition would also be banned, exempting current owners.

The Assault Weapons Ban, if implemented, would require a background check on future sales, trades or gifts of assault weapons named in the bill as well as require grandfathered assault weapons to be stored in a secure gun storage or with a safety device like a trigger lock.

A ban on bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to function like a fully automatic weapon, is also included in the bill.

“From last month’s horrific scene on the Las Vegas strip to the heart-wrenching stories coming out of Sutherland Springs, Texas, too often we’ve had to reach for our thoughts and prayers to make sense of the unthinkable gun violence that continues to claim innocent lives, devastate families and ravage communities across Washington state and nationwide,” Murray said. “But we need more than thoughts and prayers. We need action.”

Cantwell reviews bill

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., did not co-sponsor the bill. Cantwell did support a 2013 bill that was introduced in the Senate after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting but failed 60-40.

“Sen. Cantwell will review the legislation and has supported an assault weapons ban in the past,” said Bryan Watt, a Cantwell spokesman. “She continues to support common sense actions that help end senseless gun violence in our communities, like banning the sale of devices, such as bump stocks, that convert guns into unlawful automatic weapons, closing the terror loophole and expanding background checks.”