Washington governor enacts semi-auto ban, waiting periods on gun sales

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The fight over Washington State’s proposed ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons” is moving to the courts after Gov. Jay Inslee signed three gun control bills into law on Tuesday, including the aforementioned ban as well as a new 10-day waiting period on all firearm transfers and a requirement that new gun buyers show proof of training before their purchase can be completed.


The first court challenges to the new gun laws have already been filed and Inslee is well aware that the judiciary may take a dim view of his gun ban. In fact, he doesn’t sound all that confident that the ban will stand up in court.

“I think it should survive because this is a very common sense measure,” Inslee said, commenting on potential Second Amendment challenges. “I don’t believe that anyone believes that weapons of war are protected by the Second Amendment. And these particular kinds of weapons, that’s their only real reason, is mass murder. There is really no reason for these particular weapons, other than that. This bill does not take away all the right to firearms. It doesn’t prevent people from having firearms to protect their personal space and home. But the only reason for this — if you think of the ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and 10,000 zombies are coming to your house, and you need to spray gunfire all over the neighborhood.”

Really? Is that why law enforcement is exempt from the ban; so that they can commit mass murder?  Heck, if Inslee really believes his own bulls*** then why does the bill he signed today exempt current owners? According to the governor there’s no reason for anyone to own a semi-automatic rifle unless they’re going to “spray gunfire all over the neighborhood”, yet the legislation won’t touch the tens of thousands of modern sporting rifles lawfully possessed by Washington residents.


Inslee’s gonna need more than a claim of “it’s common sense” to defend his gun ban in court, and while Washington AG Bob Ferguson is no doubt concocting all kinds of dubious legal rationales for banning guns that are in common use for lawful purposes, under the Bruen test laid out by the Supreme Court last year Ferguson is going to have to prove that this type of broad ban comports with the history and tradition as well as the text of the Second Amendment; a difficult test given that sweeping bans like this one are a modern invention of the gun control movement.

The Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition have already announced their lawsuit, which was filed in federal court just minutes after Inslee put pen to paper. In their initial complaint, SAF and FPC along with several individual plaintiffs argue that the ban has “criminalized one of the most common and important means by which its citizens can exercise their fundamental right to self-defense,” and that “[a]rms that are in common use—as the firearms Washington has banned unquestionably are—are neither unusual nor dangerous. Therefore, they cannot be banned, and the Washington laws challenged herein must be declared unconstitutional.”


Another curiosity is the fact that Inslee waited until today to sign this supposedly life-saving measure into law, despite the fact that it was transmitted to his desk last week. The ban took effect immediately upon his signature, but waiting nearly a week to sign the bill allowed sales to continue at a brisk pace in the meantime. It’s likely that thousands of semi-autos were sold in Washington between the legislature’s final passage of the gun ban bill and Inslee’s signing earlier today, which tells me that Inslee was more worried about getting his photo op just right than racing to cut off sales of scary black guns.

While the gun ban is now in effect, the 10-day waiting period and proof of firearms training won’t be enforced until July of 2024. Inslee also signed another piece of legislation designed to make it easier for individuals to sue gun makers and blame them for the actions of violent criminals; another measure that’s almost certain to face a court challenge from the firearms industry. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has aggressively moved against similar laws put in place in New York and New Jersey, and I expect we’ll see the same when it comes to the new law in Washington as well.

In the long term, Washington State’s new gun ban isn’t likely to survive court scrutiny, but until it’s struck down it will be an unconstitutional abuse of power on the part of the governor and the state’s anti-gun Democratic majority. With crime at a 15-year high in Seattle, Democrats should have used this year’s session to go after violent criminals. Instead, they targeted the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Washingtonians, and they’re the ones who’ll be paying the price for the anti-gunners supposed “common sense”… or lack thereof.


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