Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony of NPI’s executive director and founder in support of the House version (HB 1240) of the legislation requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson to ban military-style assault weapons.
Good morning. For the record, my name is Andrew Villeneuve and I’m the executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a nonprofit based in Redmond. NPI is a leader in public opinion research in the Pacific Northwest, with a ten-year track record of accurate, credible, independent polling.
In 2022, our research found rock solid support for this legislation among Washington voters. 56% more than a thousand Washington State voters surveyed in June for NPI by Public Policy Polling said they supported banning the sale, transport, manufacture, or import of military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle in Washington State, 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.
1,039 likely voters were interviewed for this survey, by phone and online via text.
Importantly, the regional breakdown from our poll found support across the state, not just in Seattle and its suburbs. For example, 50% of voters in Eastern and Central Washington are supportive of an assault weapons ban: 45% strongly, 5% somewhat. 43% are opposed: 38% strongly, 5% somewhat.
More information about this finding is available at the link below, including the methodology and question text.
Subsequent research by SurveyUSA and its partners, as well as Crosscut/Elway, has corroborated our assault weapons ban poll finding.
When three different pollsters and three different sponsoring entities committed to the scientific method have corroborating research, we can have an extremely high degree of confidence in the polling.
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.
Several states currently have assault weapons bans in place, along with the District of Columbia, but Washington isn’t one of them. We need to change that.
Our repeatedly corroborated 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. Illinois and Delaware have recently done it, now it’s our turn.
We strongly urge the committee to give this bill a “do pass” recommendation.