WA bill proposes live-fire training for firearm permit acquisition

Dec 15, 2023, 10:29 AM | Updated: 10:33 am

live-fire training...

The civilian version of the Sig Sauer M17 is seen at the HIT Trade Show on February 9, 2019. (Photo: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

(Photo: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

An Olympia bill has been introduced, mandating live-fire training as a prerequisite to obtaining a firearm permit. House Bill (HB) 1902, sponsored by State Representative Liz Berry, adds further requirements, including fingerprinting, to the permit process.

Representative Liz Berry, a Democrat representing several neighborhoods northeast of and including Queen Anne, leads the bill, building upon her earlier HB 1143. This prior legislation, passed this year, instated a 10-day waiting period and mandatory safety training for all firearm purchases within the state.

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“During moments of crisis, the number of checks in place can be the difference between life and death,” Berry stated, highlighting the bill’s purpose. “This cooling-off period is critical.”

HB 1902 aims to elevate requirements akin to those for a concealed pistol license holder to all potential firearm purchasers in Washington. It advocates for a five-year permit validity for firearm purchases, with fingerprinting mandatory for all applicants.

“This measure significantly combats straw purchasing and empowers law enforcement to establish an optimal safety framework in our state,” Berry said.

The contentious aspect of the bill is the added demand for live-fire training. Applicants must complete an online safety course and undertake live-fire training under the supervision of a firearms instructor certified by the Washington State Patrol.

“The instructor’s role is not to certify competency in firearm handling, but to provide training inclusive of firing the gun,” Berry clarified. “I firmly believe that proficiency in handling a deadly weapon like a gun is imperative. It’s crucial for individuals purchasing firearms to practice shooting and learn proper handling. It’s a matter of common sense.”

However, criticism emerged regarding potential infringement on the constitutional right to bear arms. An editor at TheGunMag and a member of the Second Amendment Foundation raised concerns about logistical issues due to a scarcity of instructors and ranges across the state.

“Mandating these requirements poses logistical challenges due to the insufficient number of instructors and ranges, especially considering the substantial number of firearm license holders in our state,” Dave Workman said, speaking for the Second Amendment Foundation.

Workman emphasized potential economic discrimination against lower-income individuals, foreseeing difficulty affording the expense of live-fire training.

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Berry acknowledged these concerns, mentioning potential financial assistance for those facing barriers.

“We’re exploring options, including establishing a fund to aid those with financial constraints accessing live-fire training,” Berry said. “However, it’s essential to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with firearm ownership and the necessity for proper training.”

Additionally, Berry sponsored HB 1903, requiring gun owners to report any loss or theft of their firearm to law enforcement within 24 hours of discovery. Failure to comply may result in a $1,000 fine, particularly if the firearm is later involved in a crime or suicide.

You can read more of Matt Markovich’s stories here. Follow Matt on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here

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WA bill proposes live-fire training for firearm permit acquisition