By Aneesa Grant, The Seattle Medium
OLYMPIA – In a continued series of legal victories, Attorney General Bob Ferguson has successfully defended Washington’s ban on the sale of assault weapons against yet another attempt to block its implementation. This marks the third instance in under three months where a judge has upheld the ban amidst ongoing legal challenges.
Last week, Judge Allyson Zipp of the Thurston County Superior Court sided with Attorney General Ferguson, dismissing a request in Guardian Arms v. Inslee for a preliminary injunction that would have halted the enforcement of House Bill 1240. This mirrors the previous denial of a temporary restraining order motion in the same case on June 23.
This decision follows U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan’s rejection of a similar request to block the law in a separate case, Hartford, et al. v. Ferguson, et al., on June 6.
The joint effort by Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee led to the enactment of HB 1240 during the 2023 legislative session. The measure was introduced in response to the 2016 mass shooting at a Mukilteo house party involving an assailant who used a military-style assault rifle and a high-capacity magazine. The new law came into immediate effect upon Inslee’s signature on April 25, sparking legal challenges on the same day.
“My legal team continues to maintain an undefeated record against the gun lobby in the courts,” stated Ferguson. “This common-sense gun reform will contribute to saving lives by limiting access to the weapon of choice for mass shooters.”
Judge Zipp delivered an oral ruling denying the preliminary injunction today, with a written order anticipated to follow at a later date.
The law, while allowing exemptions for law enforcement and the military, effectively bans the sale, manufacture, and import of assault weapons within Washington state. It’s important to note that the law does not prohibit the possession of assault weapons.
Washington joins the ranks of ten other states with legislation aimed at restricting assault weapons. Multiple federal courts have validated these public safety regulations as being constitutional.
Initially filed in Grant County, the Guardian Arms case was successfully transferred by Ferguson to Thurston County. Beyond Guardian Arms and Hartford, another legal challenge to HB 1240 remains pending in the federal court of the Eastern District of Washington under the case name Banta v. Ferguson.
Ferguson’s office has maintained an unblemished track record when defending state laws against challenges from the gun lobby. Notable cases include:
• Northwest School of Safety v. Ferguson: Plaintiffs, including the Second Amendment Foundation, contested Initiative 594, which mandated background checks for all gun sales.
• Mitchell v. Atkins: Plaintiffs, including the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, contested Initiative 1639, which imposed age-related restrictions on assault weapon sales and introduced background check requirements.
• Slone v. Washington: Plaintiffs, including Gun Owners of America, challenged I-1639.
• Silent Majority Foundation, et al. v. Jay Inslee, et al.: Plaintiffs, including the Silent Majority Foundation, contested House Bill 1705, which banned ghost guns.
• Hartford, et al. v. Ferguson, et al.: Plaintiffs, including the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition, contested House Bill 1240, the ban on assault weapon sales in Washington.
• Guardian Arms v. Inslee: Plaintiffs, including the Silent Majority Foundation, contested House Bill 1240, the ban on assault weapon sales in Washington.
Additionally, Ferguson’s office has also successfully brought cases to enforce firearms safety laws, including:
• State of Washington, et al., v. U.S. Department of State, et al.: Defendants, including Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation, aimed to distribute 3D-printable gun files.
• State of Washington v. Federal Way Discount Guns: Defendants, initially represented by the Silent Majority Foundation, unlawfully sold high-capacity magazines, violating Washington state law.