Assault weapon restrictions, gun permits among measures WA Democrats want to pass in 2023

  • In US
  • 2022-12-09 01:20:35Z
  • By The Olympian

Building on 2022's gun control measures, state lawmakers will again be considering legislation to place restrictions on guns in Washington.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility announced proposed legislation for the upcoming 2023 session on Wednesday, including a measure that would put restrictions on semi-automatic assault weapons.

Kristen Ellingboe, communications director for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, told McClatchy that the proposal will "look similar to bills from years past," including Democratic Sen. Patty Kuderer's bill in 2022. That bill never made it out of committee. Kuderer, from Bellevue, and Democratic House Rep. Strom Peterson from Edmonds will sponsor the legislation in 2023.

The bill will target the supply of assault-style weapons by "prohibiting the manufacture, possession, distribution, importation, transfer, sale, offer for sale, and purchase of any assault weapon," Ellingboe said. Law enforcement and military officials would be exempt from the law.

Washington state law defines a semi-automatic assault rifle as "any rifle which uses a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge."

The statute also says, "a semi-automatic assault rifle does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action."

Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee will request the legislation for the session.

But lawmakers and advocates aren't just seeking a ban on assault weapons.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility is also seeking legislation to establish a pathway for victims of gun violence to hold manufacturers and dealers accountable, as well as legislation to require a permit for those who wish to purchase a gun in the state.

Currently, gun manufacturers and gun dealers are protected by a 2005 federal law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that gives them immunity from lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence.

Permits also are not currently required in Washington, although buyers must submit to a background check and a waiting period before obtaining a gun.

While the Alliance for Gun Responsibility additionally said they would like to see prohibitions for guns in public areas expanded even for concealed carry permits, it is unclear how much further they would like to have those prohibitions go.

Last year, the state Legislature passed other prohibitive measures on guns.

A ban on high-capacity magazines went into effect in July, and as a result Washingtonians can no longer purchase or sell magazines with the ability to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Regulations on untraceable firearms, also known as ghost guns, went into effect this year as well, and in March 2023 possession of an untraceable firearm will be illegal in the state.

Legislation that banned the open carry of weapons at government facilities and where government meetings occur also passed the Legislature and went into effect in June of this year. Possession of weapons is now prohibited at school board meetings and election-related offices.

Ferguson has already signaled that he will not tolerate violations of the bans passed by state Democratic leaders.

On Wednesday, he filed a lawsuit and is seeking an injunction against a gun store in Federal Way for selling high-capacity magazines. Federal Way Discount Guns was caught during a sweep of 25 firearms retailers, according to a press release from the Attorney General's office.

As with previous gun control proposals, Republicans are not happy about the announcement Wednesday from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

On Thursday, Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, said in a press release that it's unfortunate that legislators must use time and resources to continue debating the gun control issue. He called the proposed assault weapon ban pointless and said he doesn't believe it will have any impact on the safety of Washingtonians.

"The people of Washington are tired of political grandstanding and unproductive - or counterproductive - legislation," Walsh said in the release. "They have said repeatedly they want bipartisan solutions to problems like crime, homelessness, struggling schools, and the rising cost of living. Constitutionally dubious gun-control schemes don't address any of those real-world problems."


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