Gun owners in Washington State are gearing up for a pivotal fight over the right to keep and bear arms in the next legislative session, with gun control advocates pushing for numerous infringements on the rights of residents in the form of bans on the most common ammunition magazines, expanding gun-free zones, and more.
The next session in Olympia is what’s known as a “short session”, where lawmakers will have only 60 days to introduce and pass legislation, which might make it difficult for some of these bills to become law. Still, the state has seen gun control bills pass through both the state legislature and via the referendum process in recent years, and municipalities like Seattle, Edmonds, and Tacoma move to pass their own local gun control ordinances as well, which is a sign that anti-gun lawmakers may view these gun control bills as a top priority.
Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, sponsored the high-capacity magazine bill, which got a public hearing and committee vote before it stalled.
Valdez said he plans to introduce a new version of the ban, which will be officially requested by both Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee. The bill would prohibit sales of magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition, said Valdez.
“I think our Washington state residents want us to take action, they want to ensure that our state and our Legislature are doing everything they can” to keep people safe, he said.
Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, sponsored a version of the gun-free zone legislation last year. The proposal would expand the existing prohibition of guns in certain areas — such as at K-12 schools — to child care centers, parks and libraries.
Davis said a pared-down version that just expands the prohibition to child care centers, which passed the Senate last year, could be more likely to pass in 2020.
Gun owners aren’t the only ones being targeted by anti-gun lawmakers with new or re-introduced pieces of legislation. State Rep. Amy Walen wants to go after those retailers who sell ammunition.
Her bill would prohibit individuals who aren’t allowed to possess a firearm from having ammunition, too. It would require businesses that want to sell ammunition but aren’t already authorized firearms dealers to get a license, she said.
And Walen said she wants to create a voluntary program for sellers to report purchases of extraordinarily large amounts of ammunition.
For example, if someone “comes in to buy 1,000 rounds, I would be worried,” she said.
A thousand rounds of ammunition is a fun weekend for a lot of gun owners. Heck, that’s two big boxes of .22LR, but to Rep. Walen it’s an (insert ominous music) arsenal.
Democrats control both chambers of the legislature in Washington State, but gun owners and Second Amendment supporters have been able to successfully beat back some of these proposals in recent sessions, thanks in part to more conservative Dems representing rural parts of the state. Whether that will continue to be the case is very much an open question. We’ve already seen a number of counties and sheriffs in Washington State adopt Second Amendment Sanctuary language in an attempt to push back on the anti-gun legislative agenda, and I expect that any efforts to infringe on the rights of residents will result in even more counties joining the movement. Though it may not prevent the laws from being passed, that may very well result in the laws not being enforced in broad swaths of the state.