The Californiacation of the West coast is in full swing, and Washington State gun owners could be facing a total ban on modern sporting rifles (MSRs), magazine restrictions, and felony charges for “improper” firearm storage.
Washington legislators have introduced three bills this legislative session, all of which target lawful gun owners and their free exercise of the Second Amendment.
HB 1134 would ban the sale of “assault weapons” (a.k.a., “modern sporting rifles”) and “large capacity” magazines. If that bill doesn’t pass, anti-gun proponents are hoping to fall back on HB 1387, which would require MSR owners to procure a state license to own or purchase AR-15s, AK-47s, and similar rifles.
The final bill – HB 1122 – is the most insidious. Ostensibly designed to protect children, the legislation would charge a gun owner with a felony if that gun owner stores his or her firearm “unsafely” and a third-party causes injury or death with that firearm.
We reached out to Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and a Washingtonian himself, to get his reaction.
“The proponents do not have good intentions. All three of these bills are unreasonable,” he said in an email to GunsAmerica.
The firearms community has seen MSR bans in states like New York, Connecticut, and, of course, California. These are clear violations of Second Amendment rights, and, according to Gottlieb, could be challenged at the Supreme Court level only with the addition of one or two Trump appointments.
But the other two bills are just as worrisome.
HB 1387 has been described as the backup plan if the MSR ban fails. It would require anyone who possesses, manufactures, transports, purchases or sells an “assault weapon” to procure a state-issued license. That license must be renewed every year and must list all “assault weapons” in the license holder’s possession. This last requirement forces MSR owners to apply for a new license each and every time they sell or purchase a firearm that the bill defines as an “assault weapon.”
Even more problematic is HB 1122. Under this legislation, if a “prohibited person” (i.e., anyone who cannot legally purchase a firearm) shoots or kills someone with a firearm, the owner of that firearm could face felony charges if they “store or leave [it] in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a prohibited person is likely to gain access.”
In other words, if you leave a firearm in an unsecure location and your kid’s 16-year-old friend takes it and shoots someone, you can face felony charges and the revocation of your Second Amendment rights.
The good news is that the bills stand a good chance of being defeated. Republicans control the Senate by one seat, and Democrats have only a two-seat lead in the House. Gottlieb told me that he doubts the bills will pass, but, if they do, the Second Amendment Foundation will challenge them in court.
That being said, Washingtonians shouldn’t leave their Second Amendment rights in the hands of politicians. Calls, emails, and visits to the state capitol would go a long way towards fortifying pro-gun legislators in their opposition to these three draconian pieces of legislation.