Washington takes important step toward becoming the tenth state to ban the sale of military-style weapons
OLYMPIA — Both chambers of the Washington State Legislature have now approved a historic ban on the sale of assault weapons in Washington state.
House Bill 1240, requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee and sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, passed the House of Representatives on March 8, and the Senate today, in historic votes. Amendments in the Senate make a concurrence vote necessary in the House. The bill will head to Gov. Inslee for his signature after concurrence.
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 is the second time Gov. Inslee has joined Ferguson to call for a ban on the sale of assault weapons.
Peterson has sponsored the House version of the proposal every year Ferguson requested it. Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, also a longtime champion, sponsored the companion bill in the Senate.
“The Senate today put public safety above the interest of the gun lobby,” Ferguson said. “The devastation of mass shootings extends far beyond the casualties and injuries. Mass shootings traumatize entire communities. We must stop selling these weapons of war in Washington.”
“Passing an assault weapon ban will be a momentous step forward for Washington state,” Inslee said. “Time and again we’ve seen the carnage these weapons allow people to unleash on communities. Time and again we’ve watched the NRA and politicians defend, normalize and even celebrate these weapons. But now the time is here when the majority’s will prevails and we put the lives of our children first.”
“Our nation is averaging well over one mass shooting every single day and have been for years,” Peterson said. “Gun violence cuts short too many lives, leaves survivors with a lifetime of trauma and forces our kids to live every day with the fear of an active shooter. We need to do more to slow gun violence and with today’s vote, we are taking that next important step to protect the people we love.”
“Stop and think for a moment that firearms are now the leading cause of death among children in the U.S.,” Kuderer said. “Not traffic accidents. Not cancer or other illnesses. Not poisoning. Firearms. To ignore the seemingly endless instances of gun violence in our country would put us on the wrong side of history. These weapons of war have no place in our schools, places of worship, our streets or in our communities. Banning assault weapons marks a victory for common sense and will help us move toward a safer future for Washingtonians.”
This legislation 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 legislation does not prohibit the possession of assault weapons.
Washington becomes the tenth state to adopt similar legislation banning these weapons. Multiple federal courts upheld these public safety laws as constitutional.
Washingtonians support common-sense firearms safety laws
In the last decade, Washington state voters have overwhelmingly backed common-sense firearms safety laws proposed as statewide initiatives. Since 2014, voters have approved initiatives closing background check loopholes (nearly 60 percent of the vote), creating extreme risk protection orders (more than 70 percent) and raising the age to purchase and mandating enhanced background checks for semi-automatic rifles, as well as creating safe storage standards (nearly 60 percent).
Last session, Ferguson’s proposal to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines in Washington passed the Legislature. The law went into effect in July.
Ferguson also successfully proposed a ban on the manufacture or possession of ghost guns, as well as prohibiting sending 3D-printable gun files to those who are not legally allowed to possess firearms. That law passed the Legislature in 2019.
Two different statewide polls in the last year show that Washingtonians overwhelmingly support banning assault weapons.
A July poll, sponsored by The Seattle Times, KING 5, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication, found that more than 60 percent of Washingtonians support a ban on assault weapons in the state. More Washingtonians supported a ban than opposed it on both sides of the Cascades, the poll found.
A poll released in June performed by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute similarly found that 56 percent of Washington voters support a ban on the sale of assault weapons.
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