Sen. Lynda Wilson argued that immediately implementing the bill would force firearm businesses to decide whether to comply until a court decision is made or close shop
The Center Square Washington
The Washington Senate has passed a gun control bill that would label many types of semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns as “assault weapons” and prohibit their sale, purchase, or importation. The 27-21 vote on HB 1240 came after what Lt. Gov. Denny Heck described as an “emotional charged policy debate” on almost two dozen amendments, most of them rejected.
Much of the April 8 floor discussions reiterated previously discussed aspects of the bill regarding the definition of “assault weapon.” Under HB 1240, various semi-automatic rifles specifically listed would be illegal to buy, sell, or import. It also bans semi-automatic rifles shorter than 30 inches, in addition to various shotguns or pistols with one or more of certain features or accessories that HB 1240 proponents say make it easier to conceal or fire more rapidly.
“Banning assault weapons save lives,” Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, told colleagues during the floor debate. “Gun violence is an emergency.”
The bill allows those who legally own a firearm affected by HB 1240 to sell it to a Federal Firearms License, or FFL, dealer or to law enforcement. A related provision allows someone to inherit an “assault weapon” upon the death of the owner, provided they “can establish such provenance.” However, that person would not be able to sell or transfer the firearm to anyone other than an FFL dealer or law enforcement.
One amendment rejected by legislators sought to remove HB 1240’s emergency clause and delay implementation until an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging a similar law in California is decided, as the bill is all but expected to trigger a lawsuit on constitutional grounds. While Senate Law and Justice Committee Vice Chair Yasmin Trudeau, D-Tacoma, told colleagues that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms “is not absolute,” Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, referenced the Washington Constitution, which states “the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired.”
Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, argued that immediately implementing the bill would force firearm businesses to decide whether to comply until a court decision is made or close shop.
“I might just pack up and leave the state, which I think is a goal [of the bill],” she said.
Aside from the bill’s provisions, opponents also took issue with HB 1240’s intent section and unsuccessfully sought to edit it or remove it entirely via bill amendments. One part of the intent section claims that the gun industry markets certain firearms as “hypermasculine” to appeal to “troubled young men intent on becoming the next mass shooter,” a statement that drew protest from Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, for its “misandrist accusations.”
“If troubled young men are the problem here, why aren’t we addressing that problem?” Padden said. “I think the language in this intent section desperately needs to be changed.”
Another aspect of the intent section is its reference to “weapons of war” when referring to semi-automatic weapons. A retired Marine, Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, told colleagues he had “handled lots of weapons of war and I know the difference. An AR-15 while it may look like an M16, but it has absolutely nothing in common.”
The sponsor of a failed amendment allowing youth target rifles to be exempt from the definition of “assault weapon,” Wagoner also accused the bill’s “assault weapons” list of being “imported” from other states that already ban these weapons. “That doesn’t give me confidence.”
HB 1240 will now go back to the House for concurrence.
This report was first published by The Center Square Washington.
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