Wash. state bill claims ‘assault weapons are not commonly used in self-defense’
By Jessica Chasmar
Gun rights groups are speaking out against a bill being pushed by Washington state Democrats that would prohibit the sale and possession of many semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns in the state.
House Bill 1240, which was introduced in the state legislature earlier this month at the request of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, would prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution and selling of so-called “assault weapons,” including the AK-47, AR-15, M16 and dozens of others.
Exemptions would be limited to manufacturers and dealers selling to the military and law enforcement, antique firearms and “assault weapons” that are inoperable and/or inherited.
“The legislature finds that assault weapons are not commonly used in self-defense and that any proliferation is not the result of the assault weapon being well-suited for self-defense, hunting, or sporting purposes,” the bill states. “Rather, increased sales are the result of the gun industry’s concerted efforts to sell more guns to a civilian market.”
Under the state’s definition of “assault weapons,” which refers to semi-automatic rifles that are shorter than 30 inches and semi-automatic rifles that have a fixed magazine that holds more than 10 rounds, the bill specifically names more than 60 different types of firearms that would be prohibited.
In addition to other features that are prohibited by the bill, such as a telescoping stock, sound suppressor, muzzle brake, etc., the bill also outlaws semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic pistols that have a detachable magazine. The prohibition would also apply to semi-automatic shotguns with one or more of those characteristics.
According to the bill, breaking the restrictions would be considered a gross misdemeanor under the Consumer Protection Act.
Opponents claim that the bill unfairly singles out lawful gun owners while supporters claim that it will increase public safety by reducing gun violence in the state.
Julie Barrett, the founder of Conservative Ladies of Washington, told Fox News Digital that the bill would have “no impact” on gun violence in the state.
“The Department of Justice reported that 88.8% of gun violence is caused by people who are possessing firearms illegally,” she said. “Creating this new law to ban a specific list of firearms will not make criminals compliant but will penalize responsible and law-abiding firearm owners.”
“Ninety-seven percent of gun deaths are from handguns which did not even make the list of banned firearms in this bill,” she continued, “indicating that this bill is politically motivated and designed to make people feel like the ‘gun violence’ problem is being solved when all this bill really does is infringe upon the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Barrett said the bill is unconstitutional and would “undoubtedly be challenged in the courts, costing the taxpayers more money in litigation costs.”
National Shooting Sports Foundation spokesman Mark Oliva shared Barrett’s sentiment, saying the bill would strip law-abiding Washingtonians of their Second Amendment rights while doing “nothing to address criminals or the criminal misuse of firearms.”
“There are over 24.4 million Modern Sporting Rifles in circulation today, more than Ford F-150s on the road,” he told Fox News Digital. “They are commonly-owned and despite the bill sponsors’ defiance of the facts, these rifles are used for all lawful purposes every day, including hunting, recreational target shooting and self-defense. When viewed in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller decision, these firearms are protected for private ownership. When the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision is applied, the move by antigun politicians in Washington again falls short as the Court has stated the test for whether a law is Constitutional when it comes to firearms and firearm ownership is the Second Amendment.”
The National Rifle Association said the bill is “unconstitutional,” and that one only has to look at the crime rates in places like Seattle to see that gun bans do not work.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld that the Second Amendment protects firearms that are ‘in common use’ for lawful purposes,” spokesman Lars Dalseide said. “Law-abiding Americans use these firearms for self-defense, competition, recreational shooting, and hunting.”
“Furthermore, if these types of schemes worked then Washington’s existing firearm related bans and restrictions and red flag laws would have made cities like Seattle and Tacoma safer. The appalling crime rates there speak for themselves,” he said.
A public hearing on the bill took place last Tuesday, when Janie Vigil, the vice president of human resources at Aero Precision, a Washington-based firearms manufacturer, decried the number of jobs that would be lost in the state if the bill passed.
“Aero Precision is the largest private employer in Lakewood, Washington,” she said at the hearing. “This bill prohibits manufacturing and will result in a direct layoff and plant closure of our facility in Lakewood, Washington. While I am speaking against this bill, more importantly, I am speaking up and standing up for our 624 employees, including our 58 veteran employees and our 380 minority employees, of which over 200 are non-English speaking. I’m especially concerned about their ability to regain employment if this bill is passed.”
The bill is scheduled for executive session hearing in the House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary on Friday.
If passed, Washington would join nine other states and Washington, D.C., to ban “assault weapons.”