Gov. Jay Inslee signed a trio of gun control bills Tuesday, including one that bans the sale, manufacture, import and distribution of assault weapons.
The ban goes into effect immediately given the bill’s emergency clause, though retailers still have 90 days to sell their existing stock to out-of-state buyers.
The ban applies to more than 50 specific models of military-style firearms listed within the bill, as well as guns that meet certain characteristics, including most semi-automatic centerfire rifles that use detachable magazines and many semi-automatic pistols and shotguns.
Possession of assault weapons is not banned by the law. The law specifies a person is still permitted to leave the state with an assault weapon and come back with the same gun. But new people moving to the state would not be allowed to bring them.
Inslee also signed a bill that establishes a 10-day waiting period ahead of buying a firearm and mandates safety training to purchase any gun. Another law establishes reasonable controls on the sale and distribution of firearms for those in the firearms industry to follow while doing business in Washington.
“There is no reason on this green Earth that anybody needs a weapon of war that is designed for only one purpose, and that is to shoot and kill mass numbers of people,” Inslee said after signing the three bills.
The governor was flanked by dozens of gun control advocates, members from the groups Moms Demand Action and Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, as well as Legislators dressed in the groups’ signature red and orange. Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and sponsors of the three bills delivered speeches before the governor uncapped his approval pen.
Washington is the 10th state to impose such a ban.
A small group of demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol prior to the Governor’s action, carrying flags and signs.
The Capitol had increased security that closed the building to the public. All the building’s entrances were shut or guarded by staff and Washington State Patrol Officers.
In his speech, Ferguson said he anticipated litigation against these laws, but was confident they would be held constitutional.
“In the Attorney General’s Office, we defend all bills passed by the Legislature and by the people through the initiatives process and we have defended a number of bills relating to common sense gun reform,” Ferguson said. “Our record so far is pretty good against the NRA and against the Second Amendment Foundation. We are undefeated and we plan to keep that record intact.”
Minutes after signing, the Firearms Policy Coalition, joined by the Second Amendment Foundation, filed a federal lawsuit against the ban, calling it a violation of the Second Amendment.
“By banning manufacturing, importation, distribution, and sale of common semi-automatic rifles, the state has barred law-abiding residents from legally acquiring common rifles and has deprived them of an effective means of self-defense and their fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms,” the Firearms Policy Coalition said in a news release.
Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, has been outspoken against the ban.
“Part a non-exhaustive list of makes and models, part a poorly written conceptual description, it falls short of any clear or useful definition,” Walsh said in a statement. “It’s not limited to semi-automatic rifles but also includes pistols and shotguns. To anyone who knows guns, it’s nonsense.”
He called it unconstitutional and critiqued the bill’s definition of “assault weapon,” a term not generally used by those in the firearms industry.