What’s in the Washington State Gun Ban

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posted on April 29, 2023
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Lindsey Wasson/AP

Things went from bad to worse for Washington state gun owners on April 25, when anti-Second Amendment Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a punitive ban on many common semi-automatic firearms.

As he did so Gov. Inslee chided each and every owner of the more-than-24-million semi-automatic rifles currently owned and used for hunting, sport shooting, competition and self-defense in the United States, by saying, “No one needs an AR-15 to protect your family. You only need it to kill other families.”

Inslee later said, “We know we need to continue this effort on a national basis.”

H.B. 1240 is now the country’s most-comprehensive ban on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms and firearm parts, according to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA). “HB 1240 is the worst of such schemes in the country, exceeding what California imposes on its citizens,” reported NRA-ILA.

The new law bans the future manufacture, transfer and import of many semi-automatic firearms—including 62 enumerated firearm models and the “AR-15 in all forms”—on a list that includes shotguns, handguns and rifles. All semi-automatic rifles with an overall length of less than 30 inches are banned, as are any firearms with one or more of the features that exist on many modern designs. Semi-automatic pistols with threaded barrels, which are commonly used for self-defense, are included in the ban, as are semi-automatic shotguns with thumbhole stocks.

Additionally, the new law bans spare parts and what it calls “combination[s] of parts” that can be used to assemble banned firearms, but that are simply pieces of metal and plastic on their own. Because the bill included an emergency clause, the ban took effect immediately.

Proving that lawmakers recognize such firearms as being effective for defensive purposes, the law exempts, “The manufacture, importation, distribution, offer for sale or sale of an assault weapon by a licensed firearms manufacturer for the purposes of sale to any branch of the armed forces of the United States or the state of Washington, or to any law enforcement agency for use by that agency or its employees for law enforcement purposes.”

Of course, the NRA has already filed suit challenging the Washington ban.

“A state may not ‘prohibit an entire class of arms that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for a lawful purpose.’ Yet that is precisely what Washington State has just done,” the lawsuit says. “HB 1240 takes the radical step of banning nearly every modern semiautomatic rifle—the single most popular type of rifle in the country, possessed by Americans in the tens of millions. Indeed, Americans buy more of the most popular type of semiautomatic rifle (the AR-15) each year than the most popular type of automobile (the Ford F-150), and there are more AR-15-style rifles in private hands in America today than subscribers to all daily newspapers nationwide combined.” The lawsuit asks the court to declare HB 1240 unconstitutional and enjoin the state from enforcing it in the future.The other two measures signed into law by Gov. Inslee on April 25 were S.B. 5078 and H.B. 1143. S.B. 5078 undermines the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), and will subject licensed firearm manufacturers and sellers to frivolous lawsuits brought to recover damages for the criminal misuse of their products. 

H.B. 1143 implements a 10-day waiting period, so purchasers will have to wait to take possession of their firearms. The law also denies law-abiding Washington citizens their Second Amendment right to acquire firearms unless they present proof of completion of official, sanctioned firearms training, paid for at their own expense, within the past five years.

America’s 1st Freedom will continue to bring you the latest updates on the status of these troubling pieces of legislation as they are challenged in the courts moving forward.

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