Permit-to-purchase, assault weapons ban pass out of Washington House Committee

Two controversial firearms bills have passed out of the Washington House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee.

The two bills now go to the House Rules Committee to be scheduled for a floor vote

Brett Davis
The Center Square Washington

Two controversial firearms bills have passed out of the Washington House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 1143 prohibits firearm dealers from selling or transferring guns unless the person has a valid permit to purchase firearms, mandates background checks and 10-day waiting periods for all transfers of firearms, and requires dealers to record every transfer. The bill also requires prospective gun buyers to apply directly to a state or local law enforcement agency to obtain a purchase permit prior to approaching any seller.

House Bill 1240 bans “assault weapons,” defined in the legislation as a category of semi-automatic rifles that fit certain criteria like being shorter than 30 inches in length and the ability to accept a detachable magazine.

Republicans on the committee proposed amendments to the HB 1143, but none were adopted.

Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, proposed an amendment eliminating the training requirement for getting a permit to purchase a firearm.

“And our position is you shouldn’t need to have training to exercise a constitutional right,” he said at Friday’s executive session. “And there’s no other constitutional right we’re aware of where training is required in order to exercise it.”

Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, disagreed.

“The training is part of the core of the bill,” he explained. “I think some of us – probably some members of the committee – have gone through live-fire training and found it extraordinarily useful.”

An amendment removing fees from the permitting process was proposed by Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla.

“I know that there are other licensing and permitting fees associated with other activities like driving, but constitutional rights are unique, whether we like the firearms are protected in the Constitution or not,” he said. “That is the case.”

Hansen spoke out against the amendment, noting fees are typically the way safeguards are funded.

Both amendments were voted down on party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.

By a 6-4 vote, HB 1143 was passed out of committee.

The committee did, however, unanimously adopt two amendments to HB 1240: one allowing the sale of semi-automatic rifles to law enforcement agencies, and the other clarifying that the Attorney General’s Office and criminal investigators work together on firearms investigations.

Final comments on HB 1240 turned into something of a meta debate on firearms and their place in American society.

“Since we had the hearing on this bill to now, we have seen the continued, incredible, tragic acts of gun violence,” Rep. Storm Peterson, D-Edmonds, said. “While this bill will not cure that scourge that is happening across this country, it is part of the solution.”

A spate of mass shootings across America have been in the news recently, including one in Yakima, a city located in south central Washington, that left three people dead.

Walsh said Democrats were focusing on the wrong target.

“Violence is a scourge, and we need to do more to prevent violence in our society,” he said. “Restricting certain types of firearms, restricting the tool violent minds use to make mayhem isn’t the right solution. The right solution is to try to reach the violent mind.”

Blaming the guns themselves is an exercise in futility, he continued.

“Firearms are a tool. They are neither good nor bad, they are neither violent nor nonviolent,” Walsh said. “And they are only a risk in the hands of certain individuals. So, this will always be an issue to us, because it is based in the restriction of the foundational constitutional right at both the state and federal level.”

By a 6-4 vote, HB 1240 passed out of committee.

The two bills now go to the House Rules Committee to be scheduled for a floor vote. 

This report was first published by The Center Square Washington.

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1 month ago

Pretty LAME excuse for reporting. A REAL and INFORMATIVE article would have not only NAMED NAMES, but would have included just HOW each “member” voted.

Pathetic reporting.

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