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WA bans rifle sales to buyers under 21

Ruger AR-556 Semi-Auto Rifle. (James Case/Flickr)
January 02, 2019

Washington state residents under the age of 21 can no longer purchase rifles, as of Jan. 1.

The change is part of a bill that passed in November to put tighter restrictions on guns, namely “assault rifles,” which passed with 59 percent of the vote, The Hill reported.

Portions of Ballot Initiative 1639 include enhanced background checks for anyone who wishes to purchase a semi-automatic rifle, a 10-day waiting period, mandatory training, increased age limit for all rifle purchasers, and stronger storage laws for these guns.

The age limit portion went into effect on Jan. 1, however, the remaining portions of the reform initiatives won’t go into effect until July 1.

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Then, residents will have to pass a reportedly stronger background check through the “FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System” before purchasing a rifle, in addition to undergoing a 10-day waiting period, and completing a firearm safety course within five years prior to the purchase, according to CNN.

Further, gun owners will be liable if someone accesses and uses an “unsecurely stored firearm to hurt themselves or someone else.”

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is one of the most comprehensive in the country, according to spokeswoman for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Kristen Ellingboe.

She said, “We’ve seen that assault rifles are the weapon of choice for mass shootings, and when they’re used, more people are killed and injured. We’ve seen time and again that Washington voters want action to prevent gun violence in our state. They showed that again by supporting 1639 by a wide margin” NBC News reported.

Following the shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida implemented comparable laws on semi-automatic rifles.

Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, and New York have also followed suit by banning gun sales to those under 21 years of age.

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Those who oppose these bans, including the NRA, contend they are a violation  of the “Second and 14th amendments of the Constitution and to those in the 18-20 age bracket.”

Following the Florida mass shooting, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said, “We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms. Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals.”

In response to the new Washington state law, “firearms dealers, a 19-year-old competitive shooter, a 19-year-old in the Army Reserves, a 20-year-old recreational shooter, the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA filed a federal lawsuit to stop the law.”

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, “The gun lobby is trying to thwart the will of nearly 60 percent of Washingtonian voters who supported common sense gun reform in our state.”