Towards the end of the Legislative Session it is not uncommon for both chambers to work on the weekend, especially when hot button bills are being discussed. This year is proving to be no exception as on Saturday the State Senate passed a major bill impacting the ability to own certain types of guns.
House Bill 1240 (HB 1240) passed the Senate on a straight party line vote, 27-21 with one excused, and now goes back to the House for a concurrence vote. Once that occurs, it will go to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature.
What Will This Bill Ban?
The Bill “Prohibits the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any assault weapon, subject to various exceptions for licensed firearm manufacturers and dealers, and for individuals who inherit an assault weapon” It also makes a violation of the law a gross misdemeanor actionable under the Consumer Protection Act.
One of the things that makes this bill unique is it lists over 50 specific ‘assault weapons’ that are banned. It ranges from AK-74s in all forms to conversion kits from which an ‘assault weapon’ can be assembled to semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines that meet additional criteria regarding stocks, grips, recoil, and other accessories.
Here’s What the Bill Doesn’t Do
The Bill does not ban possession of ‘assault weapons’ with carve outs for law enforcement and for people who inherit one.
The Bill doesn’t address criminal use of ‘assault weapons’ or any of the banned items listed. It doesn’t increase the penalties for purchasing a stolen weapon. In a statement after the Bill’s passage, 19th District Sen. Jeff Wilson R-Longview said “Today the Washington Legislature passed the 38th bill since 2018 to restrict gun rights in the state of Washington, and it got no further toward ending violence in the than it did with the last 37.”
The bill does not address any aspect of criminal possession or illegally obtaining an ‘assault weapon’. In fact, there is a bill currently in the Senate that passed out of the house (HB 1268) that would weaken sentencing regarding firearms and deadly weapons related crimes.
There is also the likelihood the law gets a court challenge while the ink from the Governor’s signature is still wet. It will up to the Courts to decide if it stands, but until then, the legislature continues to find ways making it more difficult to legal obtain a gun instead of illegally obtaining a gun.
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