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Assault weapon ban passes Washington Senate, will go back to House for concurrence

House Bill 1240 bans the sale, manufacture and import of assault weapons in Washington state.

WASHINGTON, USA — A bill that would ban the manufacture and sale of guns defined as assault weapons passed the state Senate Saturday.

The bill bans the sale, manufacture and import of assault weapons in our state. It does not ban the possession of an assault weapon and it allows for ownership by law enforcement and military service members and an exception in cases of inheritance. 

House Bill 1240 passed 27-21. Senate Republicans pushed back against the bill with 20 amendments, but as the minority, only two passed.

A floor amendment allows for gun manufacturers to sell inventory already in stock prior to Jan. 1, 2023, and only to out-of-state clientele, for 90 days after the bill goes into effect.  

“I wasn't able to support today's legislation, because I think that we took away from some of the important things that we need in everyday life, which is additional treatment facilities. We need more mental health available resources for everybody,” said Sen Jeff Wilson, (R ) 19th District, Longview.

Because the bill was amended in the Senate, it must return to the House for further consideration. The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on Sunday, April 23. 

“We are the only country in the world that grapples with the horror of mass shootings, and today we took a critical step forward — and took the weapon of choice away from those who would do innocent people harm,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) sponsor of the Senate companion bill, SB 5265

Emily Cantrell, a survivor of the Las Vegas mass shooting, the worst in U.S. modern history now dedicates her life to preventing gun violence and has been fighting for this in Washington State.

“It was surreal. It's hard to believe that it finally happened and it's just an overwhelming feeling of joy. Hopefully, it means that other people won't have their own stories to tell this bill will save lives. It's been proven and nine other states that have similar bans like this that it will save lives,” said Cantrell.

If the bill receives final passage, Washington will join nine other states and Washington, D.C., in banning assault weapons.

Some advocates against the proposed gun reforms want the Supreme Court of the United States to weigh in on the constitutionality of these bills that will soon become law. SCOTUS, with its 6-3 conservative majority, has signaled its willingness to expand gun rights. In 2022, the court ruled Americans have a right to carry a gun in public for self-defense. Legal challenges are likely if House Bills 1240 and 1143 become law.

House Bill 1240, which passed out the House earlier in March, marking the first time the bill passed off a chamber floor in the Washington Legislature.

A bill that would require a 10-day waiting period and gun safety training for anyone buying a firearm also passed off the Senate floor on Friday, April 7.

House Bill 1143 would prevent a gun dealer from transferring any firearm until the purchaser or transferee provides proof of completion of a safety training program, passes a background check and waits 10 days.

In 2018, Washington voters approved Initiative 1639. That set a requirement of a 10-day waiting period and safety training for people purchasing semi-automatic rifles. House Bill 1143 extends similar measures to all firearm purchases.

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