WA Gun Control Battle Puts Democrat Hypocrisy in Spotlight

State preemption is on the line in Washington state, where anti-gun Democrats have inadvertently revealed their hypocrisy on the subject of state versus local gun control laws.

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- The battle over gun rights versus gun control in Washington State is heating up, and this Friday, Jan. 27, the House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary will be holding an executive session to discuss at least four piece of legislation which—whatever else they do—illustrate the stunning hypocrisy of anti-gun Democrats.

(Full disclosure, this correspondent testified before the committee on Jan. 17 in opposition to House Bill 1178, a measure to repeal Washington’s 40-year-old state preemption law.)

The bill’s Democrat sponsors want to roll the calendar back to a time when the state had a checkerboard of differing local gun control ordinances. They changed from one jurisdiction to another, usually confusing and often conflicting. In 1983 and again in 1985, lawmakers of a different era joined together to fix that problem, giving the Legislature sole authority to set state gun laws. Anti-gun mayors and city councils have been trying ever since to challenge and nullify the law and have failed, including last year when the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the law against a “safe storage” mandate adopted by the City of Edmonds.

The suspicion among Second Amendment activists is today’s far-left Democrats want to make the gun law scheme in Washington discouraging to gun owners. Preemption provides uniformity in gun laws from border to border. The bill’s sponsors and supporters insist local control rather than statewide gun law uniformity better addresses violent crime problems.

However, this notion conflicts with Democrats’ position on House Bill 1240, which would mandate a statewide ban on so-called “assault weapons.” Suddenly, anti-gunners believe a law affecting the entire state—not just different localities—is necessary. Perhaps the biggest canard—according to Evergreen State activists—came from Rep. Strom Peterson, an Edmonds Democrat and backer of the gun ban, when he insisted during testimony, “This is not a bill about going after people’s guns.”

Yet another example of the hypocrisy is House Bill 1143, which imposes a new statewide mandate for citizens to obtain a permit to purchase, requiring the completion of a safety training course and background check to include fingerprinting. There is also a new ten-day waiting period.

A similar measure, House Bill 1144, would require record keeping of all transfers and establish a 10-day waiting period, KOMO News reported. The bill would also require firearms training and “updates” to Washington’s background check system.

An important opponent of both proposals is Walla Walla County, Sheriff Mark Crider. He told the committee, “I think they create a state registry and database of gun owners.”

The fingerprint requirement, Sheriff Crider noted, “It puts a burden on every county sheriff in the state. We don’t have the resources to fingerprint all the citizens in Walla Walla County.”

The top five items on this Friday’s agenda are:

  1. HB 1178 – Concerning local government authority to regulate firearms.
  2. HB 1143 – Concerning requirements for the purchase or transfer of firearms.
  3. HB 1144 – Enhancing requirements for the purchase or transfer of firearms.
  4. HB 1240 – Establishing firearms-related safety measures to increase public safety.
  5. HB 1195 – Prohibiting the open carry of certain weapons in public parks and public hospitals.

The session is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Firearms retailer and Second Amendment activist Dan Mitchell has posted an alert on the Facebook Page of the Washington 2023 Legislative Action Group.

There is an interesting poll going on at the KOMO-TV website, which shows overwhelming opposition to new gun control laws. The online survey asks “How do you feel about existing gun control in Washington state?”

Since the question was first asked, the numbers have changed very little.

  • We need more: 12-13%
  • We need less: 84-85%
  • I’m unsure: 3%

KOMO is the ABC affiliate in Seattle. It is unknown how many state lawmakers watch this station’s newscasts, or how many pay attention to the polling the station routinely conducts. Even though the KOMO survey is an unscientific project, it is still reflective of a heavy opposition to the additional gun restrictions Evergreen State Democrats hope to impose this year.

Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested HB 1240. They have been trying to ban semi-auto rifles for the past few years. They apparently believe with a Democrat majority that improved slightly with last November’s election, they can get this bill passed.

Waiting in the wings are gun rights organizations, particularly the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Second Amendment Foundation. Both groups are headquartered in Bellevue, an upscale city about 70 miles north of the state capitol in Olympia. SAF especially has shown no reluctance to challenge semi-auto bans, and both groups are currently plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban in Maryland that has already been granted certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court. Last June, after accepting the case, the high court vacated a lower court ruling upholding the Maryland ban and remanded the case back to that court for further action under new guidelines created by the Bruen ruling, which scrapped the two-step process invented by lower courts to determine the outcome of Second Amendment cases, virtually always in favor of the government. Not anymore.

If the House committee recommends any or all of these measures for passage before the full House, they must still get through the State Senate, where Republicans and some Democrats in the handful of swing districts remaining in the state might prevent them from moving.

The Gun Rights Coalition has set Thursday, Feb. 23 as “Gun Rights Lobby Day” at the state capitol. This group has almost 16,000 members statewide.

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