SEATTLE — Gun control is a hot topic in our nation right now, especially in the wake of devastating mass shootings like in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York.
More than half of the people surveyed across Washington state said they support a ban on assault weapons to some degree, according to WA Poll results.
Of those who responded, 61% said they would strongly support or somewhat support a ban.
The WA Poll was commissioned by KING 5, The Seattle Times, University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication and conducted by SurveyUSA.
Of the 825 participants who responded, 44% said they strongly support a ban on assault weapons. Another 17% said they somewhat supported the idea.
Of those opposed, 12% said they somewhat opposed a ban, and 22% said they strongly opposed a ban. Four percent of respondents said they were not sure about a ban.
There were some important divisions along party lines and what side of the Cascades participants resided on.
Democrats largely supported the idea, with 75% saying they strongly support a ban and 16% saying they somewhat support it. Though there was some support for a ban from Republicans, more than 50% said they were opposed, with 44% being strongly opposed.
Digging deeper into the results, there is a big difference in what the respondents were likely to support based on where they live and their political views.
People living in western Washington were also more likely to support a ban. A total of 65% strongly or somewhat support the idea of an assault weapon ban. Meanwhile, 48% of people from eastern Washington opposed a ban, with 35% being strongly opposed.
The purpose of an assault-style weapon also depends on who you ask.
“These types of weapons, there's only one purpose, and the purpose is to kill or maim as many people as possible, as fast as possible,” said Robert Silber, an attorney and vice president of Washington CeaseFire, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing gun violence.
However, Rebecca Huckins, with Mary’s Pistols in Tacoma, said people are going to the shooting range with assault-style weapons, and some are used for home defense.
The results of the WA Poll support what gun control advocates like Washington CeaseFire have been saying.
“I mean, it absolutely does not surprise me,” said Silber. "People want to see a ban on assault weapons."
For Silber, the fight is personal.
“My grandfather was killed when I was the age of 13,” Silber said. “He was sitting in a parking lot, and a man came up to him. He rolled down his window, and he was just shot. The drive is that I've seen on my own family level how it's affected my family.”
Silber has worked for more than seven years on legislating an assault weapon ban in Washington state.
“These numbers give us hope that we're not alone in trying to change the rhetoric and to change our actions,” Silber said.
On the other side of the aisle are people whose livelihoods depend on the sale and purchase of firearms.
“A ban of assault rifles would just punch us in the gut. You know what I mean? Like, it just would take so much of our business that it would be hard to stay afloat,” Huckins explained.
Huckins told KING 5 that this type of legislation doesn’t get to the root cause of gun violence.
“I mean, the bad guys already have their guns at this point,” she said. “So unless we get to the root of the problem with treating mental health, starting there, starting work on community support, this is always going to be a problem. A ban like this will not actually solve the problem.”
The state should not have a say over what is a constitutional right, according to Huckins.
“We will deny people that need to be denied. That’s not an issue,” Huckins said. “So, it comes down to responsibility on the gun owner’s part, on the shop’s part.”
For the sixth year in a row, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson proposed a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons. Ferguson said last month he plans to move forward again with another proposal.
The WA Poll was commissioned by KING 5, The Seattle Times, University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication and was conducted by SurveyUSA. It surveyed 825 adults from July 6-10, 2022. Of those adults, 731 were registered voters. The poll represented the demographics of Washington state with 47% from the metro Seattle area, 32% from western Washington and 21% from eastern Washington.
Download our free KING 5 app to stay up-to-date on news stories from across western Washington.