Call it a full frontal assault on Evergreen State gun rights; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, announced their 2023 gun control wish list at a press event Monday.
Almost immediately, Second Amendment advocates started preparing for battle come January when the Legislature opens its new session.
Republican State Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) area declared during an interview with a Seattle radio station that at least one measure—a ban on so-called “assault rifles”—is “a waste of taxpayers’ time and money.”
Other critics are already contending the measures—including the gun ban and a proposal to require permits to purchase firearms—are unconstitutional. A third proposal, to hold gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with firearms, could collide with an existing federal statute called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, passed during the George W. Bush administration.
In his opening remarks, Inslee told reporters, “We lose over 800 Washingtonians a year to gun violence,” without explaining the majority of those deaths are suicides.
He then proposed “a permit to purchase bill that will treat guns with the severity that they deserve.”
“You need to get a license to drive a car in the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “You need to get a license to go fishing. It’s time to get a license to make sure you have the safety training to purchase a gun in the state of Washington. And it’s high time we pass a bill to make sure you get a permit before you purchase a firearm.”
Critics, including Seattle conservative talk host John Carlson at KVI-AM, observe in response that driving and fishing are both privileges, while owning firearms is a right protected by both the Washington State and federal constitutions.
Ferguson touted the magazine ban law he had requested during the last legislative session. He also said bans on so-called “assault weapons” have been imposed and upheld in other states, but that was prior to the Supreme Court ruling in Bruen earlier this year, and the subsequent acceptance of a case challenging such a ban in Maryland known as Bianchi v. Frosh. That case involves the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, both coincidentally based in Bellevue, Wash. The high court vacated a lower court ruling that upheld the ban, and remanded the case back to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for further review under new Second Amendment doctrine spelled out in the Bruen ruling.
Likewise, a challenge to the California magazine ban was also granted certiorari in late June, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding the ban was vacated, and that case, known as Duncan v. Bonta, was remanded for further consideration under the Bruen guidelines.
According to the Spokane Spokesman Review, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, and Rep. David Hackney, D-Tukwila, will sponsor the gun manufacturer liability bill.
In a press release from Ferguson’s office, it was revealed State Sen. Patty Kuderer and Rep. Strom Peterson, both Democrats, would sponsor the bill to ban so-called “military-style assault weapons.”
If all of these proposals become law, it is a certainty they will be challenged in court.
Ferguson’s press release noted that two different statewide polls during the past year show strong support for an “assault weapons” ban. A July poll was sponsored by KING 5, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication, and the Seattle Times. A poll in June was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute.
Second Amendment activists have argued that constitutionally-protected rights are never subject to public polls, regardless the issue.