Legal analyst on WA rights regulating gun control: ‘A lot has changed’

Feb 13, 2023, 4:33 PM | Updated: 5:33 pm
domestic violence...
Activists rally against gun violence on June 8, 2022, in Washington, DC, demanding action from lawmakers. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)

A bill floating around the House Appropriations Committee could force Washington residents to have a permit to purchase firearms within the state — if it passes.

The bill would also require safety training classes to obtain said permit.

“With the Supreme Court case this past summer (New York State Rifle Association vs. Bruen), a lot has changed regarding the Second Amendment and state’s rights to regulate gun control,” Ashlynn Mejia, a district attorney and legal analyst, said on The Gee and Ursula Show. “I think when legislators created laws about who’s allowed to carry and who’s not allowed to carry, there were certain groups of people that they were trying to protect. And I think that a lot of people would agree that victims of domestic violence are a particularly sensitive group. Those people likely have many reasons to be in fear for their lives.”

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Earlier this month, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that those under domestic violence restraining orders still have a Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The court ruled federal laws barring these alleged abusers from possessing guns are unconstitutional, according to CNN.

“When Congress had passed some of these walls, they were doing it with the intention of protecting domestic violence victims by not making it as accessible for their abusers to have access to firearms and seeing the walls get struck down causes a lot of concern, and it might lead people to not want to file domestic violence charges,” Mejia said. “If they know their abusers, they’re going to have access to weapons and be able to readily purchase those weapons.”

When the original laws were written, there never was a domestic violence statute, according to Mejia.

Washington state’s bill, in addition, would require gun dealers to wait 10 days after a background check is requested and must receive notification through the Washington State Patrol Firearms Background Check Program.

“I think we’re going to see over the next couple of months, under this reasoning, the guns being regulated continue to evolve,” Mejia said. “We get more and more advanced guns, more magazine capabilities. But the regulation on these evolving weapons is not going to be allowed to evolve to keep up with the pace. And I think that we’re going to run into some serious trouble over the next couple of years.”

According to a 2018 study by The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, nearly half of all women killed in the U.S. are murdered by a current or former intimate partner. The study also found a woman is five times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has access to a gun.

More from Gee and Ursula: Could backyard cottages expand from Seattle to the rest of Washington?

“It seems to me that the rights of gun owners, which should be protected under the Second Amendment, outweigh every other concern consideration with some of these, I would have to call them activist courts. I know that’s an opinion, but you think that’s a fair thing to say?” asked host Spike O’Neill, filling in for Ursula Reutin.

“I do think that that’s the fair thing to say,” Mejia responded. “Now the constitutionality of gun laws is going to be based on the plain text of the Second Amendment and whether or not that protects the activities of the laws that we are regulating.”

The bill had a public hearing in the committee on Wednesday.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here

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Legal analyst on WA rights regulating gun control: ‘A lot has changed’