Washington is now the 5th state to ban the sale of assault rifles to anyone under 21. The ballot initiative also strengthens background checks and requires safe storage of all guns in an effort to curb gun violence today. The age restriction portion went into effect on January 1 and the rest will be enacted on July 1.
Before buying firearms, Washington residents must now go through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). A spokesperson from Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility said the initiative is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the U.S. and that its ban on semi-automatic assault rifles is a direct response to mass shootings.
Spokeswomen Kristen Ellingboe stated to AP News, “We’ve seen that assault rifles are the weapons of choice for mass shootings, and when they’re used, more people are killing and injured.”
59% of Washington voters approved the measure during the November 6 election but opponents like the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA have filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the initiative violates the 2nd and 14th Amendments.
“Starting today, young adults between the ages of 18 to 20 will have their rights to purchase semi-automatic rifles stripped away,” Second Amendment Foundation spokesman Dave Workman said to AP News.
Washington joins Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, and New York, which have banned the sale of firearms to those under 21.