Washington governor signs new gun bills into law, including ‘assault weapons’ ban

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed three new gun bills into law Tuesday, including an assault weapons ban that takes immediate effect
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed three new gun bills into law April 18, including an assault weapons ban that takes immediate effect. (Credit: Jeanie Lindsay / NW News Network)


By Jeanie Lindsay

Surrounded by gun reform advocates, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed three new gun control bills the morning of April 18, including a ban on the import and sale of high capacity and semiautomatic firearms.

The new ban went into effect the moment the governor signed the bill.

“Washington State is leading the way,” said Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds), a longtime advocate for the bill in the legislature.

The new law bans AR-15’s and other high-capacity, semi-automatic rifles, along with dozens of other specific weapons. It would allow licensed gun dealers who obtained those weapons before January of this year to sell their remaining stock to people outside of the state for 90 days.

It comes after years of advocacy from students, parents and communities affected by gun violence across Washington and the country. Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he’s filed the bill every year since 2017, and attributes the bill’s passage to the years of work done by people across the state.

“This movement is dependent on grassroots supporters,” he said.

Washington is now one of 10 states in the country with such a ban.

Inslee also signed into law two other firearm measures, requiring a new 10-day waiting period and safety training requirement for gun buyers, and creating new legal liabilities for gun sellers and manufacturers. The new waiting period and safety training requirements go into effect Jan. 1 of next year.

The assault weapons ban is already facing a legal challenge, with the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation filing a complaint in federal court Tuesday morning. In a statement, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb called the new law “absurd.”

“The state has criminalized a common and important means of self-defense, the modern semi-automatic rifle,” the statement said. “The state has put politics ahead of constitutional rights, and is penalizing law-abiding citizens while this legislation does nothing to arrest and prosecute criminals who misuse firearms in defiance of all existing gun control laws.”

But Ferguson says he’s confident the ban will hold up.

“We spent a lot of time carefully crafting the legislation being mindful of the U.S. Supreme Court and recent rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court, and doing everything we could to craft a piece of legislation that we thought could best withstand the inevitable legal challenge,” he said.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement on behalf of President Joe Biden, praising the passage and signing of the new ban.

“President Biden commends the leadership of Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and legislative leaders, as well as the advocates, survivors, and elected officials who fought for years to make today a reality,” the statement said. “In so doing, they have made every community in the state – from Seattle to Spokane and everywhere in between – safer and more secure.”