State House passes ban of assault weapon, approves 10-day wait on sales

Mar 9, 2023, 7:41 AM
assault weapon...
(AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

The Washington state House passed a ban on the sale of assault weapons Wednesday night–the first time a proposal to ban the sale has made it through one of the chambers of the Legislature.

It passed by a vote of 55-42.

Most Washington voters strongly support a ban on assault weapons

As written, the bill prohibits the sale, manufacture, and import of assault weapons in the state.

There are exemptions for law enforcement and the military.

And, if you already own an assault weapon, it’s OK to keep it.

The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office says eight states have adopted similar legislation banning these weapons. Multiple federal courts upheld these public safety laws as constitutional.

In a prepared statement, Ferguson said, “The House put public safety above the interest of the gun lobby. The devastation of mass shootings extends far beyond the casualties and injuries. Mass shootings traumatize entire communities. We must stop selling these weapons of war in Washington.”

Opponents of the measure said it was inaccurate to use the term “assault weapons”, because it is not a well-defined term and is also vague.

The state Senate will review House Bill 1240 next.

Washington House Democrats have also passed a bill that would require a 10-day waiting period when purchasing firearms.

Firearms dealers would not be able to sell or transfer guns without the completion of a background check and not before 10 days have elapsed since the check was initiated. People buying firearms also would have to show proof of a completed firearms safety training program within the previous five years.

Currently, a 10-day waiting period is mandatory in Washington when purchasing a semiautomatic assault rifle.

In 2018, Washington voters passed Initiative 1639 to implement the semiautomatic rifle waiting period. It required purchasers of semiautomatic weapons to complete enhanced background checks and enacted a waiting period. The law also made it illegal for people under 21 to purchase semiautomatic assault rifles.

If passed by the Legislature and signed by Inslee, the legislation would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

Lisa Brooks contributed to this report

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State House passes ban of assault weapon, approves 10-day wait on sales