Attorney General Bob Ferguson visited the Reporter’s office. Carrie Rodriguez/staff photo

Attorney General Bob Ferguson visited the Reporter’s office. Carrie Rodriguez/staff photo

Attorney General Ferguson on guns and government lawsuits

The Washington state AG stopped by the Reporter’s office to chat about current events.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently paid a visit to the Reporter’s office to talk gun control, undocumented immigration and leading the nation in standing up against the Trump administration.

Gun reform

Ferguson is a supporter of SB 6620, the bill to raise the age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21. If you must be 21 to purchase a handgun in Washington, he said, why should assault rifles be any easier to attain?

“I don’t hear anyone saying that you should be able to buy a handgun at 18,” he said. “I’m just saying, make our laws consistent. It makes our laws logical.”

Ferguson is not against guns in general; he just does not see why military-style weapons should be allowed in civilian society. But in terms of hunting rifles and handguns for sport and protection, he said he has no issue.

“If you wanna go hunting with your father, I don’t have a problem with that,” he said.

Ferguson pointed out that the Seattle Pacific University shooter had to stop to reload his gun; during this time, a student tackled him, thus stopping the shooter from killing more people. This is evidence, Ferguson said, that decreasing the prevalence of semi-automatic weapons saves lives.

“I’m not saying you can stop Mukilteo, Florida … But do I think it’ll make a difference? Yes,” Ferguson said. “Do I think it’ll solve the problem? No, but that’s not a reason not to do it.”

Ferguson finds it ironic that, despite its Democrat majority, the state Legislature won’t enact enhanced background checks for the purpose of assault rifles.

“Legislators are too cautious when it comes to [gun control] laws,” he said.

Immigration

As the first attorney general to file a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s travel ban last year, Ferguson is passionate about protecting Washington residents from deportation.

In January, Ferguson’s office filed a suit against national motel chain Motel 6 for handing over guests’ personal information to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement so that the agency could round up undocumented immigrants. At least six of Washington’s 28 Motel 6 locations — Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, SeaTac and Tacoma — admitted to providing ICE with name lists and personal information since 2015.

“It’s terrible for individuals who were undocumented and were picked up,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson recalled that one man — who has lived in the U.S. for 20 years and has a wife and children — traveled to Everett for work, spending the night in a Motel 6. The motel chain tipped off ICE, which came and picked the man up on Valentine’s Day.

The attorney general pointed out that people sometimes rely on motels to escape dangerous situations, saying that a motel should be a safe space for them.

“People stay in motels for lots of personal reasons — you could be a woman fleeing abuse,” Ferguson stated.

Standing in opposition to Trump

Since President Trump took office, Washington state has filed 22 lawsuits against the federal government. Five of those have been wins, and three are waiting on appeals.

“The bottom line is, we have yet to have a court rule against us,” Ferguson said.

Washington was the first state to file a lawsuit against the federal government over the January 2017 travel ban that stopped people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

“People felt it was constitutional,” Ferguson said, pointing out how many supporters the executive order had at the time. “But we felt differently. I believe in taking risks.”

Ultimately, Ferguson said, the decision came down to one question: “Are Washingtonians being harmed?”

“There wasn’t a whole lot else to think about,” he said.


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