SHB 1240 was requested by Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
“Today Washington state is putting the gun industry in its place and improving the health, safety and lives of our residents,” Inslee said.
Inslee also signed two other firearms bills on Tuesday. One would require a waiting period before buying a gun and the other provides the ability to sue firearm manufacturers or retailers for irresponsible conduct.
The ban on the distribution and importation of assault weapons in Washington took effect immediately, but legal owners can retain those they already own.
The evidence that assault weapon sales bans prevent gun deaths comes from America’s recent history, Inslee said in an Internet blog post.
When a federal assault weapons sales ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004, mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur as compared to the periods before and after, he said.
But the Silent Majority Foundation argued that the measure will do nothing to curb crime, while impairing the right of law-abiding citizens to continue purchasing the most commonly owned type of firearm in the country.
“Semiautomatic firearms have been in widespread use for more than a century, and are as American as baseball and apple pie,” it said in a post.
Pete Serrano, a Pasco City councilman and one of two attorneys filing the lawsuit, said in a video posted on Guardian Arms Training social media that the ban is “on absolutely lawful firearms that the Constitution would protect, that our United States Supreme Court would protect.”
“No weapon is an assault weapon without a person who is acting on its behalf,” Serrano said. The other attorney for the Silent Majority case is Austin Hatcher of Spokane.
The Silent Majority Foundation received interest from potential plaintiffs from around the state for a lawsuit against the ban, as well as support from firearms dealers, law enforcement and military veterans, and disabled people who have weapons for self defense, it said.
It settled on filing in Grant County because it was home to the majority of interested plaintiffs.
The Silent Majority Foundation is joined in the lawsuit by Guardian Arms Training of Moses Lake, which offers firearms training; Millard Sales, a gun store in Ephrata; and seven individuals.
The National Rifle Association filed its case on behalf of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and several individual plaintiffs.
“The Supreme Court long-ago ruled that states cannot ban firearms that are in common use,” said Aoibheann Cline, Washington state director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “It’s outrageous that states continue to pass these unconstitutional bans.”
The new law exceeds the restrictions imposed in California, the NRA said.
In the case filed in federal court in Western Washington, the Second Amendment Foundation was joined by three individuals the Firearms Policy Coalition and the Vancouver-area gun store Sporting Systems.
The Second Amendment Foundation said the banned firearms are inaccurately labeled as “assault weapons.”
“The state has criminalized a common and important means of self-defense, the modern semiautomatic rifle,” said the foundation’s founder, Alan Gottlieb. “The state has put politics ahead of constitutional rights and is penalizing law-abiding citizens.”