NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, June 10th, 2022

Most Washington voters strongly support a ban on military-style assault weapons

A major­i­ty of like­ly 2022 vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State sup­port a ban on mil­i­tary-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle, with over fifty per­cent express­ing strong sup­port, NPI’s most recent statewide sur­vey has found.

56% of 1,039 vot­ers sur­veyed last week for NPI by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling said they sup­port­ed a ban, while 38% were opposed. Just 6% were not sure.

52% expressed strong sup­port and 31% expressed strong oppo­si­tion. 4% were some­what sup­port­ive and 7% were some­what opposed.

This find­ing demon­strates that there is sol­id sup­port for leg­is­la­tion in Wash­ing­ton to pro­hib­it the sale, man­u­fac­ture, trans­port, or import of firearms that were designed to effi­cient­ly kill large num­bers of human beings.

June 2022 assault weapons ban poll finding

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s poll find­ing con­cern­ing vot­ers’ sup­port for a ban on assault weapons such as the AR-15 rifle

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, who joined our team today in Kent to unveil this poll find­ing, has request­ed such leg­is­la­tion for over half a decade, but it has­n’t received a floor vote in either the state House or the state Senate.

2023 can and must be the year that it final­ly does.

Over the past few weeks, there has been an almost non­stop series of mass shoot­ings around the coun­try. Shop­pers at a Buf­fa­lo, New York gro­cery store were mur­der­ous­ly gunned down with an assault weapon the shoot­er had mod­i­fied.

Then, just days lat­er, chil­dren at an ele­men­tary school in Uvalde, Texas were also mas­sa­cred with an assault weapon, their bod­ies in many cas­es unrec­og­niz­able for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pur­pos­es as a result of the hor­rif­ic exit wounds.

ABC News tal­lied even more recent car­nage in a graph­ic pub­lished this week.

The Unit­ed States is the only advanced coun­try in the world that reg­u­lar­ly expe­ri­ences the tragedy of mass shoot­ings. And as recent his­to­ry has shown us, no kind of place in our land has been spared from the scourge of gun violence.

Homes, work­places, schools, hous­es of wor­ship, gro­cery sto­ries, movie the­aters, fes­ti­vals… all been turned into grue­some crime scenes too many times to count.

We don’t have to live like this or accept it. There is no legit­i­mate rea­son to allow civil­ians to buy or import weapons of war. How­itzers, fight­er jets, and tanks aren’t for sale to civil­ians, and mil­i­tary-style assault weapons should­n’t be either.

If you search the net, you’ll find seem­ing­ly end­less essays from gun enthu­si­asts argu­ing vocif­er­ous­ly that gun safe­ty laws sim­ply don’t work and can’t work.

But the expe­ri­ence of the world’s oth­er democ­ra­cies proves they’re wrong.

Dur­ing most of the 1990s, the Unit­ed States had a fed­er­al-lev­el assault weapons ban in place, which cred­i­ble research indi­cates helped reduce mass shoot­ings.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that ban expired in 2004 and was­n’t renewed by Con­gress, which was under Repub­li­can con­trol at the time.

Sev­en states cur­rent­ly have assault weapons bans in place, along with the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, but Wash­ing­ton isn’t one of them. (The sev­en states are Cal­i­for­nia, Con­necti­cut, Hawaii, Mary­land, Mass­a­chu­setts, New Jer­sey and New York.)

Our polling shows that vot­ers here are ready for the Ever­green State to take action and be among the van­guard of states that ban assault weapons.

Here’s the ques­tion we asked and the answers we received:

QUESTION: Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose, or strong­ly oppose ban­ning the sale, trans­port, man­u­fac­ture, or import of mil­i­tary-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle in Wash­ing­ton State?

ANSWERS:

  • Sup­port: 56% 
    • Strong­ly: 52%
    • Some­what: 4%
  • Oppose: 38%
    • Some­what: 7%
    • Strong­ly: 31%
  • Not sure: 6%

Our sur­vey of 1,039 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, June 1st through Thurs­day, June 2nd, 2022.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

In King Coun­ty, which is home to over thir­ty per­cent of the state’s pop­u­la­tion, sup­port for an assault weapons ban is a whop­ping 73%, with 68% strong­ly sup­port­ive and just 19% opposed in total. 7% were not sure.

But King Coun­ty isn’t the only region of the state that sup­ports a ban.

You might think that East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton would be adamant­ly opposed to an assault weapons ban, giv­en the area’s right wing bent.

But it turns out that even vot­ers there sup­port an assault weapons ban.

50% of vot­ers in East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton are sup­port­ive: 45% strong­ly, 5% some­what. 43% are opposed: 38% strong­ly, 5% somewhat.

That’s a majority!

Sup­port for an assault weapons ban also spans across all ages, with majori­ties of every group old enough to vote sup­port­ive of ban­ning assault weapons.

Young vot­ers ages eigh­teen to twen­ty-nine, who rep­re­sent Wash­ing­ton’s future, are the most enthu­si­as­tic. 74% of them (prac­ti­cal­ly three-fourths!) sup­port a ban, with 71% strong­ly sup­port­ive and 3% some­what supportive.

Encour­ag­ing­ly, more than a fifth of vot­ers who iden­ti­fy as Repub­li­can (21%) are sup­port­ive of an assault weapons ban, along with near­ly 90% of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers and 44% of inde­pen­dent vot­ers. (Anoth­er 48% of inde­pen­dents say they are opposed, while a fur­ther 8% are not sure.)

This new find­ing fits with our pre­vi­ous research on sup­port for gun safe­ty laws in Wash­ing­ton State, which now goes back over half a decade.

In 2016, we found sky-high sup­port for Ini­tia­tive 1491 (extreme risk pro­tec­tion orders), which passed eas­i­ly. In 2018, we found rock sol­id sup­port for Ini­tia­tive 1639 (rais­ing the age to buy firearms and insti­tut­ing safe stor­age require­ments), which also passed eas­i­ly. Ear­li­er this year, in Feb­ru­ary, we found a super­ma­jor­i­ty sup­port­ive of ban­ning high-capac­i­ty mag­a­zines and pro­hibit­ing the car­ry­ing of guns at local gov­ern­ment meet­ings and elec­tion sites.

The Leg­is­la­ture has tak­en impor­tant steps in the last few ses­sions to build on the three vot­er-approved gun safe­ty ini­tia­tives adopt­ed by the people.

That’s wel­come progress. But we can’t stop there.

Next year, the Leg­is­la­ture must go fur­ther and ban mil­i­tary-style assault weapons from being sold, man­u­fac­tured, trans­port­ed, or import­ed in Wash­ing­ton State.

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