Bill seeks to end preemption in Washington state

Bill seeks to end preemption in Washington state
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Up until recently, Washington state had been a pretty pro-gun state. That makes sense, considering the outdoor tradition in the Northwest. Guns are a big part of that and always have been.


However, in recent years, that’s changed. It’s changed a lot, as we’ve all noticed.

It’s just a matter of time before the pro-gun laws currently in place are repealed. The next one up? Preemption, it seems.

People spoke out for and against a bill that would repeal Washington state’s preemption statute, which gives the Legislature the primary authority to regulate firearms, during a Tuesday morning public hearing held by the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 1178 would allow a city, municipality, or county to pass their own firearms ordinances, including adopting laws that are in addition to or more restrictive than state law.

The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. David Hackney, D-Tukwila, framed the proposed legislation as a restoration of local jurisdiction when it comes to firearms.

“And the reason for this is simple: one size fits all doesn’t necessarily work,” he told the committee. “Local jurisdictions should have the authority to adopt the kind of gun regulations that are appropriate for their community.”


That’s not what he believes.

I know it’s not what he believes because if he did, he would feel the same way about gun rights. I-1639, for example, dictated gun control for the entire state. If Hackney believed that local jurisdictions should decide for themselves, he would have opposed that.

I don’t seem to remember him arguing against that measure, though.

He doesn’t think municipal governments should decide for themselves, he only thinks they should be able to be stricter than the state. That’s an important difference.

Further, preemption helps create an even framework for people traveling through the state. They’re not likely to get jammed up because they stopped and got gas in a town that doesn’t allow magazines with more than 10 rounds, but they’ve got 15-round mags.

Let’s be real here. There’s absolutely no evidence that preemption increases crime or helps facilitate it in any way. In fact, there’s no evidence that local gun control does much of anything except allow mayors to claim others are to blame for their violent crime issues.


As such, this bill needs to crash and burn and do so with such force that it seers it into the cultural identity of Washington state lawmakers for generations to come.

However, based on what we’ve seen out of the state lately, that’s not likely to happen. They’ll end preemption, celebrate it, watch local governments pass gun control, and then…? Nothing. Nothing at all.

When that fails, though, there won’t be any discussion of reinstating preemption. They’ll just move on down to the next gun control item and try to get that in place. The failure of gun control is never because of the gun control itself, apparently. The problem is always that anti-gunners didn’t pass enough of it.

Preemption is on the block now. Everything else will be there at some point in the future.

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