Washington State Bans Assault Weapons

April 26, 2023

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Tuesday signed into law a statewide ban on the sale, manufacturing and distribution of 50 types of semiautomatic weapons.

The ban had passed in Washington’s state House 56-42 last week. It had previously passed both legislative chambers but then lawmakers had to hammer out several amendments to the bill.

Inslee’s signing makes Washington the 10th state to ban assault weapons. Other states that have banned assault weapons include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

President Biden has long called on Congress to renew the federal assault weapons ban that he helped pass in 1994 as a senator, but which lapsed in 2004. He most recently raised his voice on the subject following last month’s school shooting in Nashville where three 9-year-olds and three adults were killed.

“Let me remind you, the last time we passed the assault weapons ban, violent shootings went down, mass shootings went down,” Biden said on March 28.

Washington’s law does not mandate that people surrender assault weapons they already possess. The law is meant to stop people from purchasing new assault weapons. The legislation also provides exceptions for military and police agencies. 

Critics of Washington’s law have said it would punish law abiding gun owners, and that it fails to address underlying causes of gun violence, such as mental illness. 

Upon his signing the law, Gov. Inslee addressed opposition from the National Rifle Association, which has backed lawsuits that have been brought in some of the other states asserting that their bans are unconstitutional.  

In fact, soon after Insley signed the law, the Firearms Policy Coalition and the Second Amendment Foundation filed such a lawsuit challenging the legislation. 

Inslee said he’s “not intimidated” by the critics. He also signed a bill Wednesday making it easier to sue gun manufacturers who are “creating or maintaining a public nuisance” if they don’t enact “reasonable controls” to keep their products out of the hands of minors, straw purchasers, gun traffickers and others who are not supposed to possess firearms.

PHOTO: @GovInslee

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