Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, announced on Monday a legislative proposal to ban assault weapons, require a permit to purchase a gun and make gun sellers potentially liable for negligent sales in the state.
Similar to a high-capacity magazine ban last year, the proposal would not ban the possession of assault weapons. Further, the manufacture and sale to law enforcement and the military would be exempt from the ban.
A federal law protects gun manufacturers and sellers from liability in some circumstances, such as a gun being stolen from a shop without the owners knowing, but Congress allowed states to pass their own laws regulating sales.
The effort to ban assault weapons by Ferguson has failed six times in the state Legislature. But the Attorney General said he’s optimistic it can pass in 2023 given that polling and recent elections have favored candidates who support additional efforts to reduce gun violence.
The latest gun measures will face opposition from Republicans and gun-rights advocates, as well as lawsuits if the proposal is approved and signed into law. The 2023 Washington legislative session starts January 9.
Voters in Oregon approved a sweeping gun-control initiative in the November election that also includes gun permitting. That measure has been legally challenged, and it was temporarily paused by a judge last week until questions regarding its constitutionality are decided.