WA Governor, AG team up to push gun ban

WA Governor, AG team up to push gun ban
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have taken another step towards a complete ban on AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles by announcing their plan to push for criminalizing the manufacture and sale of so-called assault weapons when lawmakers return to Olympia for the 2023 session.

The state has already imposed several restrictions on purchasing modern sporting rifles; including enhanced background checks and training mandates, raising the age to purchase from 18 to 21, and banning their sale to out-of-state purchasers, but clearly that’s not enough for the anti-gunners in the state. I’m sure they’d love to simply ban the continued possession of semi-automatic rifles outright, but they’re taking a slower, more piecemeal approach. Last year the state imposed a ban on the sale of “large capacity”magazines, this year they’re going after sales of “assault weapons,” but all this is just building towards the day when Democrats take a page from Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and demand that existing owners turn them over to police or get rid of them.

For now, though, Inslee and Ferguson are making a point to play up the grandfather clause in their just-announced gun ban.

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.

Eight states have passed similar legislation banning these weapons. Multiple federal courts have upheld these public safety laws as constitutional.

How many have done so since the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen? Zero. In fact, the Supreme Court granted cert to a challenge to Maryland’s ban on “assault weapons” shortly after it handed down its opinion in Bruen; vacating the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding the ban and ordering the appellate court to rehear the challenge in light of the history, text, and tradition test the justices laid out while ruling New York’s “may issue” concealed carry law was unconstitutional. The Fourth Circuit just heard oral arguments in that case, and its entirely possible that the Supreme Court could get ahold of the case for a final ruling at some point next year.

Inslee and Ferguson don’t want their Democratic colleagues to wait on a green light from SCOTUS before imposing a ban of their own, and they’re also flouting federal law by pushing for another new measure; this one designed to make it easier to sue gun makers and sellers over the criminal misuse of their products.

The Firearm Industry Responsibility and Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Act requires firearm industry members who conduct business in Washington state to establish, implement and enforce reasonable controls regarding the manufacture, sale, distribution, importing, use and marketing of the firearm industry member’s firearm-related products. A violation of the act is a violation of the state Consumer Protection Act and its public nuisance law. The bill ensures access to justice for those injured or killed as a result of illegal firearms industry conduct, allowing them or their families to pursue damages under Washington law.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was approved by Congress in 2005 with the intent of blocking these kinds of junk lawsuits, but gun control activists and anti-gun lawmakers think they’ve seized on a way to get around PLCAA by suing gun makers over their marketing practices; basically making the argument that criminals were persuaded to engage in their violent acts because of the advertising around firearms… even if there’s no proof that the shooter ever saw an ad or social media post for the gun they used in their crimes. States like New York and California have already put similar laws on the books, and the federal lawsuits seeking to overturn them have already been filed and are currently in U.S. District Court.

Again, though, Inslee and Ferguson aren’t taking a wait-and-see approach. They know that their anti-gun ideology is threatened; by SCOTUS,  the growing number of gun owners who aren’t interested in trying to fight crime or “gun violence” by criminalizing a fundamental right, and even the increasing awareness among progressives, at least some of who, are starting to realize that gun control is antithetical to their ideal of reducing violence without putting more people in jail.

Most anti-gunners aren’t interested in pussyfooting around and nibbling at the edges of the right to keep and bear arms after the Bruen decision. They want to take as big a bite out of our Second Amendment rights as they can, and I believe that goes for Inslee and Ferguson. In their case, it means banning the sale of “assault weapons” in 2023 and trying to bankrupt gun makers through junk lawsuits… but I suspect that they’re already salivating over the prospect of a taking an even bigger bite in 2024 if today’s proposals are enshrined into law.