‘Assault Weapon’ Ban Passes WA Senate – Governor Signals Support

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The Washington state senate on Saturday approved a measure that would ban the sale of so-called “assault weapons.” It does not, however, ban possession.

HB 1240 will make it illegal to sell, transfer, distribute, manufacture or import a long list of prohibited firearms. The bill bans several broad categories such as the AK-47 and AR-15 “in all its forms,” and then lists dozens of specific product lines, such as the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 and Bushmaster XM-15.

It also bans the weapons by defining them as semiautomatic, centerfire rifles that accept a detachable magazine and also have at least one of many other listed features, such as a folding or telescoping stock. It also bars such weapons if they have an integral 10-round magazine.


The bill was amended by the senate, so it now returns to Washington’s House of Representatives for a final vote. The House passed the original bill on a 55-42 vote, and Governor Jay Inslee previously signaled his support, saying, “Passing an assault weapon ban will be a momentous step forward for Washington state.” Tacoma-based firearm component-manufacturer Aero Precision begs to differ:

The bill’s supporters “don’t own firearms and don’t know anything about firearms,” said Republican Senator Keith Wagoner, who was able to amend the bill to explicitly exempt active duty military personnel who are ordered to duty in Washington, along with military retirees moving to the state.

Violations will be considered “gross misdemeanors,” carrying a penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

The “assault weapon” bill is one of several measures advancing in the Washington legislature. On Friday, the Senate approved an already-House-approved bill that puts a 10-day waiting period on gun purchases and requires buyers to prove they took a safety class.

The impending infringements on gun rights triggered a surge in gun-buying as residents raced to beat the legislature: Background checks in the state rocketed 70% higher in April.

Washington is poised to become the 10th state to impose such an “assault weapon” ban, joining California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, along with the District of Columbia.

There’s a distinct possibility all of those bans will be obliterated by the Supreme Court in the not-too-distant future. Keep an eye on two cases making their way through the federal court system: Bianchi v Frosh, which challenges Maryland’s ban, and Miller v Bonta, which targets California’s.

After last summer’s Supreme Court Bruen ruling, gun control laws can only be upheld if they are consistent with the “historical tradition of firearm regulation.” That new standard has resulted in an ongoing series of gun control laws being rejected. Most recently, a federal judge applying that framework blocked California’s “Unsafe Handgun Act,” which among other things, requires that handguns must stamp a unique identifier onto fired bullets, with the intent to facilitate police investigations.

 

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