WA Governor: ‘Ban Assault Weapons, Require Training’

UltraONEs, iStock-160713832
Washington’s governor wants to ban these. iStock-160713832

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- Washington’s Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee’s “State of the State” address to kick off the 2023 session of the State Legislature removed any questions about his intention to make life tough for Evergreen State gun owners.

He accused the “gun lobby” of having “worked for decades against commonsense gun safety measures.” He wants to require gun buyers to have “safety training before they purchase a gun.” He says, “we must increase accountability among manufacturers and dealers and give families, and victims access to justice when those entities fail to do their duty.”

Inslee wants to ban so-called “assault weapons,” and he has requested legislation to make it happen. Twenty-three House Democrats have agreed to sponsor the bill. House Bill 1180 and its companion legislation, SB 5193, would ban “assault rifles” and is written to take effect immediately upon signing. This 15-page bill lists several specific firearms that would be banned. People who inherit such firearms cannot sell them to anyone other than a licensed dealer or can turn them over to a law enforcement agency.

House Bill 1143 and its Senate companion, SB 5211, would mandate training, institute a 10-day waiting period on gun purchases, and prohibit firearms transfers prior to the completion of a background check. Critics assert this creates an open-ended background check environment where the State Patrol could literally deny citizens their Second Amendment rights by simply pending the checks for weeks or months.

Critics also argue that nobody should have to get permission from a law enforcement agency in order to exercise a constitutionally-protected right. Opposition to this proposal is something Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat doesn’t seem to understand.

“Ten other states have had similar laws over the years,” he wrote recently “In 2018, researchers at Johns Hopkins compared gun violence in 136 urban counties (including four in our state) and concluded that these permits to purchase guns had cut gun homicides by 14%. How? By reducing the share of guns that fell into the wrong hands or onto the black market.

“It’s possible that the application process required to obtain a permit,” he quoted the research, “which puts the purchaser directly in contact with law enforcement, acts to hold potential purchasers more accountable and reduces the likelihood of straw purchases made on behalf of prohibited persons. The added time to conduct the background check may also make it easier to identify and screen out prohibited individuals who may be at increased risk of using that firearm to commit a homicide.”

There is an interesting theory about requiring permits to purchase, an idea that was part of neighboring Oregon’s Measure 114, which is now being challenged in federal and state courts. By having to obtain a permit and going through the check to buy a gun, the information could be used to create a de facto gun registry.

In a single day, more than 850 comments had been posted in reaction to Westneat’s column. Guns are definitely a hot-button issue in Seattle, where even liberals, according to Westneat, have guns.

Public hearings on some gun control legislation are looming. Ammoland has learned hearings on HB 1178 Concerning local government authority to regulate firearms, HB 1143 Concerning requirements for the purchase or transfer of firearms, HB 1144 Enhancing requirements for the purchase or transfer of firearms, and HB 1240 – Establishing firearms-related safety measures to increase public safety are scheduled Jan. 17 at 10:30 a.m. before the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee in Olympia.

Possibly among those proposals is House Bill 1178, which is sponsored by 15 state representatives, all Democrats, according to TheGunMag.com. This bill would repeal Washington’s 40-year-old state preemption law, which the sponsors justify by lamenting in the preamble, “For over 30 years, local towns, cities, and counties have been blocked from taking action on their own to prevent gun violence because of the statewide preemption of local regulations relating to firearms. The legislature intends to provide local jurisdictions the ability to build upon statewide standards and adopt responsible approaches to firearm regulations to help address the epidemic of firearm violence in their communities by restoring inherent local authority to adopt firearm regulations that are in addition to or more restrictive than the requirements of state law under the police power to protect public health, safety, and welfare.”

Translation, according to critics: Democrat lawmakers want to surrender their responsibility for maintaining gun law uniformity from border to border in Washington. They want to turn over their authority to an assortment of municipal politicians who have supported defunding police. This would turn back Washington’s calendar four decades to a time when the state had a mish-mash of confusing and sometimes conflicting local gun ordinances.

HB 1178 is sponsored by Representatives Jessica Bateman, Steve Bergquist, Liz Berry, Lisa Callan, Beth Doglio, Davina Duerr, David Hackney, Mari Leavitt, Nicole Macri, Timm Ormsby, Gerry Pollet, Alex Ramel, Julia Reed, Sharon Tomiko Santos, and Amy Walen.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is a leading advocate of preemption repeal. Perhaps it sticks in his craw that the law has been used to smack down two attempts by Seattle and one by the City of Edmonds to defeat preemption in court.

In a 2011 case brought by the Second Amendment Foundation, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, National Rifle Association, Washington Arms Collectors and others, Seattle lost in an effort to ban guns in city park facilities. The case was known as Chan v. City of Seattle.

Eleven years later, a 2022 case known as Bass v. City of Edmonds resulted in a unanimous ruling by the state Supreme Court upholding the statute while striking down an Edmonds ordinance requiring so-called “safe storage” of firearms in the city. This ruling essentially nullified a similar ordinance adopted by Seattle.

Democrats have the majority in both houses of the Legislature, a result of not enough voters in conservative districts turning out at the last election. With Inslee in the governor’s office, it could be touch-and-go for Washington gun owners this year.

About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman