Ruling comes after federal judge denied another attempt to block the law earlier this month
OLYMPIA — A Thurston County Superior Court judge today agreed with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and rejected an attempt to block Washington’s new law banning the sale of assault weapons. This is the second court in less than three weeks to rule that the ban should remain in place while legal challenges continue.
Today, Judge Allyson Zipp rejected a request in Guardian Arms v. Inslee to grant a temporary restraining order blocking the implementation of House Bill 1240. Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee jointly requested the bill.
On June 6, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan also rejected a request to block the law in a separate case, Hartford, et al. v. Ferguson, et al.
Ferguson first proposed a ban on the sale of assault weapons in 2017 in the wake of the 2016 mass shooting at a Mukilteo house party. The shooter used a military-style assault rifle and a high-capacity magazine. This was the second time Inslee joined Ferguson to call for a ban on the sale of assault weapons.
The new law went into effect immediately after Inslee signed it on April 25. Legal challenges began the same day.
“This is our second victory against the gun lobby’s attempt to block the ban on the sale of assault weapons,” Ferguson said. “My legal team remains undefeated against the gun lobby in court. This common-sense gun reform will save lives by restricting access to the preferred weapon of mass shooters.”
Judge Zipp delivered an oral ruling denying the temporary restraining order today. A written order will be filed at a later date.
The new law prohibits the sale, manufacture and import of assault weapons in Washington state while allowing reasonable exemptions for manufacture and sale to law enforcement and the military. The law does not prohibit the possession of assault weapons.
Washington is the 10th state to adopt similar legislation banning these weapons. Multiple federal courts have upheld these public safety laws as constitutional.
In addition to Guardian Arms and the Hartford case before Judge Bryan, there is one other challenge to HB 1240 pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Washington. Guardian Arms was originally filed in Grant County, but Ferguson successfully had the case transferred to Thurston County.
The Attorney General’s Office is undefeated in defending state law from attacks by the gun lobby:
- Northwest School of Safety v. Ferguson: Plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation challenge to Initiative 594, which required background checks on all gun sales.
- Mitchell v. Atkins: Plaintiffs including the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation challenge to Initiative 1639, which restricted the sale of assault weapons to individuals over the age of 21, and imposed background check requirements.
- Slone v. Washington: Plaintiffs including Gun Owners of America challenge to I-1639.
- Silent Majority Foundation, et al. v. Jay Inslee, et al: Plaintiffs including the Silent Majority Foundation challenge to House Bill 1705, banning ghost guns.
The Attorney General’s Office has also successfully brought cases to enforce firearms safety laws:
- State of Washington, et al., v. U.S. Department of State, et al: Defendants including Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation, sought to distribute 3D-printable gun files.
- State of Washington v. Federal Way Discount Guns: Defendants represented initially by the Silent Majority Foundation sold high-capacity magazines in violation of Washington law.
Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.Aho@atg.wa.gov
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