Serving Franklin County, WA

Numerous new gun restrictions loom

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign multiple new firearms restrictions into law in the coming two weeks.

House Bill 1143 passed the Senate 28-18 on Saturday, April 7. That bill is now before the governor.

On the same day, House Bill 1240 passed the Senate, 27-21, and is now back before the House to reconcile changes between the newest version and one passed by the House earlier this year.

A reconciliation vote is expected to come quickly, as the only difference between the bills

House Bill 1143, when signed into law, requires a permit to purchase a firearm and completion of a firearms safety class no more than five years prior to purchase.

It also establishes a 10-day waiting period on all firearms and prohibits transfers of firearms without a background check – even to family members.

And it creates new firearms transfer regulations and background check procedures.

House Bill 1240 would create a “assault weapons” classification and reclassify numerous types of firearms as such, including popular plinking rifles like the Ruger 10/22.

The bill includes catch-all terminology to effectively define any other semiautomatic firearm or one that can be made to look like a military-grade gun an “assault weopon.”

In addition to banning the sale of assault weapons, it generally prohibits the sale and distribution of parts in the state to non-law enforcement personnel.

So-called “assault weapons” already owned by state residents would be grandfathered in, but could not be sold or transferred in state, with few exceptions.

Owners with guns they have owned and taken out of state will be allowed to return with them with proof of longevity of ownership, under the bill

Active-duty military personnel moving to the state will also be allowed to keep their firearms.

House Bill 1240 contains an emergency claus, meaning it goes into effect at the time of signing by the governor.

Both bills passed largely on a partyline vote, with Democrats backing both measures and Republicans opposing both.

Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, opposed House Bill 1240 and introduced the exemption for military personnel.

“The bill targets several of the most popular sporting and self-defense firearms in the country, including most modern sporting rifles and even some shotguns used for hunting and competition shooting,” he said after the bill passed Saturday.

Wagoner said the Legislature has shirked its responsibility by attacking gun owners rather than the reasons for the increase in violent crime statewide.

“We have seen soft-on-crime policies, releasing criminals from incarceration; vilification of our law enforcement officers; toleration of life-destroying drug proliferation and use; failure to address mental health adequately; and poor decisions during the COVID lockdowns resulting in learning loss and depression among our youth,” he said. “We need to focus on addressing the root causes leading to chaos and violence, not vilify firearm ownership.

Wagoner is hoping gun owners will contact House members en masse to voice opposition for the bill and possibly upend it before it becomes law.

“There is still time for lawmakers to do the right thing, put this bill down, and set their sights on real solutions,” he said.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

Author photo

Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


Reader Comments(0)