Gov. Inslee signs ban on assault weapons sales; challenges begin

Apr 25, 2023, 12:11 PM | Updated: 12:31 pm

assault weapons ban...

Governor Inslee passed a ban on the sale and manufacture of all assault weapons Tuesday. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)


Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a bill banning the sale, manufacture, or import of assault weapons in the state at 10:54 a.m. Tuesday. Immediately thereafter, a lawsuit was filed by the Second Amendment Foundation to try and end the ban.

The State Legislature passed House Bill 1240 at the end of March, which banned dozens of models of guns, including modifications that would add weapons to the list.

Gun store owner: Assault weapons ban is ‘a failed policy’

“These weapons of war, assault weapons, have no reason other than mass murder,” Inslee said at the signing ceremony. “Their only purpose is to kill humans as rapidly as possible in large numbers.”

As written, the bill prohibits the sale, manufacture, and import of assault weapons in the state, but there are exemptions for law enforcement and the military. Those who already own assault weapons would be allowed to keep them.

Democrats in the hearing said the legislation could prevent mass shootings, especially in the light of several recent mass shootings with semi-automatic assault weapons, including one at a Nashville elementary school. 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.

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.

Republicans argued that the bill would ban guns or attachments that would not go towards preventing any mass shootings, including silencers. They attributed the restriction on gun access to the rising crime rates many cities in the state are seeing.

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to fight the ban, saying that it was unconstitutional under the Second and Fourteenth amendments.

“The State has enacted a flat prohibition on the manufacture, sale, import, and distribution of many types of firearms, inaccurately labeled as ‘assault weapons,’ which are owned by millions of ordinary citizens across the country,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “In the process, the state has criminalized a common and important means of self-defense, the modern semiautomatic rifle. The state has put politics ahead of constitutional rights, and is penalizing law-abiding citizens, while this legislation does nothing to arrest and prosecute criminals who misuse firearms in defiance of all existing gun control laws. It is absurd.”

Inslee also signed two other major gun bills Tuesday, including a 10-day waiting period requirement and proof of safety training for all gun sales, and the ability to sue gun manufacturers and dealers for negligence for gun sales to minors.

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