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.

Tuesday, January 17th, 2023

NPI urges Legislature to enact a ban on military style assault weapons with HB 1240

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.

Thank you.

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