Washington’s New Gun Control Laws
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Washington’s New Gun Control Laws

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Posted on August 16, 2023

In an attempt to counteract rising gun deaths in Washington, Governor Jay Inslee signed three new gun control measures into state laws in April of 2023. According to CDC data, in 2021, 48,830 people in the U.S. died from gun-related injuries. Between 2019 and 2023, there were over 2,500 mass shootings. According to the statistics from 2021, 54% of gun-related deaths were suicides and 43% were murders, including mass shooting victims with the term “mass shootings” applying to any shooting that results in the deaths of 4 or more victims.

With three new gun control measures signed into law in Washington, the Governor hopes to send a clear message that the state seeks to protect citizens from gun violence, especially children and students now targeted by mass shooters.

No matter which side of the national gun control debate you align with as a citizen, if you live in Washington, it’s important to gain a clear understanding of the three new laws put into place through legislature and the work of gun control advocates.

Washington’s New Restrictions on Assault Weapons

Washington’s HB 1240 signed into law in April focuses on restrictions on assault weapons. This legislation includes a description of “assault weapons” that is consistent with descriptions in other states defining them as civilian versions of weapons created for military use with the ability to kill people quickly and efficiently.

HB 1240 prohibits the importation, sale, and distribution of assault weapons within the state while allowing those who currently and legally own weapons fitting this description to keep the ones they legally possess. The law also allows licensed firearm dealers to continue selling assault weapons to law enforcement agencies and the military. 

Any assault weapon owner who wishes to voluntarily forfeit their weapon may sell them to a licensed gun retailer who may then sell them out of state. Any violation of the assault weapons restriction is an actionable gross misdemeanor.

Washington’s 10-Day Waiting Period

The state also passed HB 1143, requiring a waiting period of 10 days as well as proof of completing a firearms safety training course for all new gun purchases. The state already required this training for the purchase of specific rifle types. The safety course includes training on the following:

  • The proper handling, storing, and transporting of firearms
  • Understanding self-defense laws
  • Risk awareness, including child safety and suicide prevention
  • De-escalation strategies

This new law promotes accountability and responsibility for legal firearm owners. During the 10-day waiting period, law enforcement agencies will perform in-depth background checks on prospective gun purchasers to disqualify ineligible buyers.

Washington’s Gun Manufacturer Accountability Law

The state’s SB 5078 requires firearms manufacturers to increase public safety by prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and distribution of large-capacity magazines. It also restricts existing legally owned magazines to use only on the owner’s property or licensed gun ranges. 

The new law also seeks to hold gun manufacturers accountable for “knowingly creating, maintaining, or contributing to a public nuisance” by prohibiting them from purposefully designing or selling products used to convert legal weapons into illegal products or for selling firearms to retailers with a history of irresponsible sales or reckless actions.

Importantly, SB 5078 also removed the special status protection previously enjoyed by gun manufacturers to shield them from liability. Not only are the laws enforceable by the state’s attorney general, but residents of Washington can now sue gun manufacturers and retailers who engage in this conduct if they or a loved one were injured as a result.

Get In Touch With Caffee Accident & Injury Lawyers Today

If you have been the victim of a mass shooting or a horrible similar tragedy, please get in touch with the Kent wrongful death attorney from Caffee Accident & Injury Lawyers. We are here to fight for the compensation and the justice that you deserve. Contact or give us a call today at (206)-312-0954.