assault rifle.jpg
State gun control advocates are still trying to bury these
Tragic as it was, the cold-blooded drive-by shooting of Officer Timothy Brenton over the weekend

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Will a Cold-Blooded Cop-Killing Convince Legislators to Ban Assault Weapons?

assault rifle.jpg
State gun control advocates are still trying to bury these
Tragic as it was, the cold-blooded drive-by shooting of Officer Timothy Brenton over the weekend handed supporters of a proposed state assault weapons ban with a compelling case to take to Olympia. Even though police say they have not yet determined what weapon was used, Ralph Fascitelli, president of Washington CeaseFire, says he plans to cite Brenton's murder when lobbying for the bill in the next legislative session.

"Maybe this particular [police victim] wasn't killed with an assault weapon, but the next one maybe will be," Fascitelli says, adding that police safety was a key reason that automatic weapons were banned decades ago and that the International Association of Police Chiefs supports a ban on military-style semiautomatic weapons today.

Former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske, now the nation's drug czar, was a prominent supporter of the federal assault weapons ban that expired under President George W. Bush. Asked whether the Seattle Police Department, under Interim Chief John Diaz, might now speak out in favor of a state ban, spokesperson Sean Whitcomb says: "There may certainly be a time and place for this."

The planned state legislation already has some traction. Family and friends of Aaron Sullivan, a teen killed by another teen with an assault rifle in Leschi over the summer, have been actively organizing on its behalf. The bill was brought up at a memorial for Sullivan held on Sunday by his family and CeaseFire. And the teen's murder has brought new support for gun control in the African American community, according to Fascitelli. Sullivan's mother is African American, and a well known educational consultant and administrator at Seattle Community College.

Still, gun control advocates have tried to pass an assault weapons ban several times before in this state--and failed--even after shocking shootings that you would think would have made it a slam dunk. In 1994, for instance, a bill went down despite the killing of a Ballard High School student with a semiautomatic. As usual, the NRA has been a potent political force in blocking such legislation.

Fascitelli says he believes the timing may be right this year because of a number of sympathetic legislators, including Adam Kline (D-Seattle) and others on the Senate Commerce Committee, where the bill will be introduced. But he says it's powerful House Speaker Frank Chopp that will determine its fate. "If Chopp gets behind it, it will pass. If he doesn't, it won't."

A call to Chopp's spokesperson for comment has not yet been returned.

 
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