WA State Senate passes assault weapons ban, brought upon by mass shootings

Apr 9, 2023, 9:14 AM

The state capitol building in Olympia. (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

On Saturday, the Washington State Senate approved legislation banning the sale of assault weapons.

House Bill 1240, requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee and sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, passed the House of Representatives on March 8, and the Senate today, in historic votes,” said the WA State Office of Attorney General in a news release.

The bill passed by 6 votes, 27-21. The bill now goes back to the House for final approval since amendments to the legislation did pass during Saturday’s vote. If it does pass the House again, the bill will head to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature.

Attorney Ferguson proposed the ban in 2017 after the 2016 mass shooting at a Mukilteo house party.

“The Senate today put public safety above the interest of the gun lobby,” Ferguson said. “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.”

The bill prohibits the sale, manufacture, and import of assault weapons in Washington state while allowing exemptions for law enforcement and the military. The legislation does not prohibit possessing assault weapons.

Washington will become the tenth state to adopt legislation banning assault weapons, according to the news release.

Gov. Inslee stated his support for the weapons ban.

“Passing an assault weapon ban will be a momentous step forward for Washington state,” Inslee said. “Time and again we’ve seen the carnage these weapons allow people to unleash on communities. Time and again we’ve watched the NRA and politicians defend, normalize, and even celebrate these weapons. But now the time is here when the majority’s will prevails and we put the lives of our children first.”

Lynnwood City Councilmember also recently showed his support. A poll from June, by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute, found that 56% of Washington voters support a ban on the sale of assault weapons.

Groups like The Alliance for Gun Responsibility believe this legislation is a step in the right direction in curbing gun violence in the state and across the nation.

“We know they are weapons of war. We know that they have no place in our neighborhoods. And to know that we have the backing politically to ensure that things that just happened in Nashville are going to be that much harder to happen here…it truly is such an honor,” spokesperson Victoria Muzyk said.

But during the vote, Senate Republicans stayed firm in their opposition to the bill. Senator Jeff Wilson from District 19 was one of many Republicans who argued the bill doesn’t truly address the issue of gun violence and that they should focus more on mental health rather than gun laws.

“But I would rather have the talks on the root cause and I think going forward, I am concerned, deeply concerned,” Wilson said.

While both sides disagree on how to address the issue of gun violence, both would argue it continues to be a problem everywhere.

“This is a chronic epidemic. It is a violent reoccurring epidemic that does not need to be happening and requires our immediate addressing,” Muzyk said.

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WA State Senate passes assault weapons ban, brought upon by mass shootings