"Assault weapons" ban clears WA State Senate, 2A groups promise legal challenge

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

A bill banning the sale and manufacture of so-called assault weapons has cleared its last major legislative hurdle in Washington State, but Second Amendment groups are already vowing to bring the fight over the gun ban to the courts if and when HB 1240 is signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.


State senators worked overtime over the weekend to clear the gun ban off their calendar, ultimately approving the bill on a party-line vote with only a couple of minor changes.

A floor amendment allows for gun manufacturers to sell inventory already in stock prior to Jan. 1, 2023, and only to out-of-state clientele, for 90 days after the bill goes into effect.

“I wasn’t able to support today’s legislation, because I think that we took away from some of the important things that we need in everyday life, which is additional treatment facilities. We need more mental health available resources for everybody,” said Sen Jeff Wilson, (R ) 19th District, Longview.

Because the bill was amended in the Senate, it must return to the House for further consideration. The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on Sunday, April 23.

I’m sure that House Democrats will hold a concurrence vote well before the legislature adjourns in a couple of weeks, and Inslee has already pledged to sign the gun ban bill into law. This isn’t the only infringement to the Second Amendment rights of Washingtonians that’s likely to be enacted before April 23rd either. Last Friday the state Senate also gave its approval to HB 1143, which would establish a “permit to purchase” system complete with mandatory firearm training that every would-be gun owner must possess before they can lawfully purchase or receive a firearm as well as a mandatory 10-day waiting period on all gun sales.


Inslee’s sure to sign that bill into law as well, and has already been touting the supposed benefits of a gun ban on Twitter.

“Gun violence” can be prevented, but not through criminalizing the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right or by targeting legal gun owners. Washington has been trying that for years now, but despite dozens of new gun control measures being imposed since 2015, violent crime has increased by 55% during the same time period.

“It’s a crisis situation, yet the majority [party] here doesn’t seem to realize it at all,” Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, told The Center Square. Padden is the ranking minority member on the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

In 2015, there were 18,925 violent crimes reported, compared to 29,368 reported in 2021. However, some crimes, such as murder, have increased by 95%, with 166 murders in 2015 compared to 325 in 2021. Aggravated assaults increased by 73%, while rape increased by 51%. Simple assaults increased by 13%. Between 2015-2021, there were 146,323 violent crimes committed, 15% of which involved the use of a firearm.


And yet once again, lawmakers are taking aim at the vast majority of gun owners who’ll never be accused of committing a violent crime, much less convicted of a serious offense.

The Bill doesn’t address criminal use of ‘assault weapons’ or any of the banned items listed.  It doesn’t increase the penalties for purchasing a stolen weapon.  In a statement after the Bill’s passage, 19th District Sen. Jeff Wilson R-Longview said “Today the Washington Legislature passed the 38th bill since 2018 to restrict gun rights in the state of Washington, and it got no further toward ending violence in the than it did with the last 37.”

The bill does not address any aspect of criminal possession or illegally obtaining an ‘assault weapon’.  In fact, there is a bill currently in the Senate that passed out of the house (HB 1268) that would weaken sentencing regarding firearms and deadly weapons related crimes.

That’s right. The very same legislators who are cracking down on lawful gun owners are ready and willing to cut actual criminals yet another break, even as Washington is becoming a far more dangerous place to live and work.

Inslee may be thanking his fellow Democrats for their anti-gun actions this session, but violent criminals in Seattle, Tacoma, and other hard-hit cities should be singing their praises as well. Thanks to the state’s Democratic majority Washington is posed to become an even more treacherous place to live… at least for the law-abiding, and for as long as these ill-considered bills remain on the books. With legal challenges expected to be filed as soon as Inslee signs these new gun control measures into law, hopefully it won’t be too long before the courts step in and put a halt to these pending abuses of our right to keep and bear arms.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member