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9 states now ban the sale of AR-15-style rifles

Washington state on Tuesday approved a raft of gun control measures that include a ban on the sale of military-style semi-automatic weapons, making it the ninth state to join forces to block the distribution of AR-15s and other powerful rifles often used in mass shootings.

The new law puts Washington among the states with the strictest gun controls in the country. These include a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases, a gun safety training requirement and provisions allowing state attorneys general and consumers to sue gun manufacturers or dealers under public nuisance laws if they negligently let their guns fall into the hands of minors or “Dangerous Person.”

Gun rights supporters quickly filed a lawsuit challenging the ban on semi-automatic rifles, saying it violates Second Amendment rights.

Washington is one of a string of states led primarily by Democrats to move forward with gun legislation this year as the country continues to grapple with recurring mass shootings. Republicans have taken the opposite direction, with lawmakers in several states introducing legislation to expand the ability to carry concealed weapons without a permit and to roll back regulations such as gun-free zones, background checks and red flag laws that would allow the removal of guns from banned People who are considered to be at risk of violence or self-harm.

About half of the states now allow people to carry handguns without a license, up from 16 states in 2020.

AR-15-style rifles have been a particular concern for gun control proponents because they are often the weapon of choice in mass shootings. High-capacity firearms can fire bullets at a faster rate than pistols, resulting in more serious injuries.

In signing the new law, Gov. Jay Inslee said there was no legal use for such weapons.

“These weapons of war, assault weapons, do nothing but carnage,” Mr. Inslee said. “Their sole purpose is to kill humans in large numbers as quickly as possible.”

In 1994, as a congressman representing rural Washington, Mr. Inslee voted for a federal assault weapons ban — a vote he said contributed to his re-election defeat later that year. The ban was passed but expired in 2004 and was never renewed.

Last summer, within months of a young gunman using an AR-15-style rifle to kill 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to A federal ban was restored, but it stalled in the Senate.

Washington’s new law follows similar bans in other liberal-leaning states and Washington, D.C. Some states, such as California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, have banned books for decades, as has Maryland. These weapons have been banned since 2013. But several more states have enacted bans as the number of high-profile mass shootings escalated.

Illinois passed a ban in January, and Delaware passed a similar law last year. Hawaii has banned so-called assault pistols with certain features since 1992, but not military-style rifles.

Colorado lawmakers introduced a similar ban last month, but the House bill failed to pass committee after three Democrats voted down it alongside Republicans, local media reported.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, all currently in place bans allow people to keep previously purchased weapons, but how these so-called legacy weapons are regulated varies from state to state.

The new law enacted in Washington joins a host of other gun control measures the state has taken in recent years. In 2018, voters approved an initiative to raise the age to purchase military-style rifles to 21 and create an enhanced background check system for those guns, which includes a 10-day waiting period.

New legislation now requires a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of any type of firearm. While several states require a waiting period, only California and Hawaii require the full 10 days. Washington is one of nine states that require proof of training from gun buyers.

Five states have now passed legislation allowing lawsuits against private parties for negligent sales.

Rep. Liz Berry, a Washington Democrat who supports one of the new bills, said she ran for office three years ago because she was angry about the number of people affected by gun violence. She said the new waiting period was critical to preventing people in crisis from using firearms; she said the training requirement could help people understand safe handling of firearms and how to keep firearms away from children.

Ms. Berry pointed to recent protests by students in Washington to persuade lawmakers to take action to end gun violence.

“We saw you. We heard you,” Ms. Berry said. “And, today, we’re doing something about it.”

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