AG Ferguson, Gov. Inslee legislation banning sale of assault weapons passes House in historic vote this evening
Ferguson first proposed the bill in 2017 in the wake of the Mukilteo shooting
OLYMPIA | March 8, 2023— In a historic vote today, the Washington House of Representatives passed a ban on the sale of assault weapons. The measure, requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee and sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, passed by a 55-42 vote.
This is the first time a proposal to ban on the sale of assault weapons passed a chamber of the Washington Legislature. House Bill 1240 now heads to the state Senate.
Attorney General Ferguson is joined by legislators, law enforcement, community and faith leaders in September of 2017 to announce a proposal to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for the 2017 session
Ferguson first proposed a ban on the sale of assault weapons in 2017 in the wake of the 2016 mass shooting at a Mukilteo house party. The shooter used a military-style assault rifle and a high-capacity magazine. This is the second time Gov. Inslee has joined Ferguson to call for a ban on the sale of assault weapons.
This legislation prohibits the sale, manufacture, and import of assault weapons in Washington state while allowing reasonable exemptions for manufacture and sale to law enforcement and the military. The legislation does not prohibit the possession of assault weapons.
Eight states adopted similar legislation banning these weapons. Multiple federal courts upheld these public safety laws as constitutional.
Peterson has sponsored the House version of the proposal every year Ferguson requested it. Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, sponsored the companion bill in the Senate.
“The House today put public safety above the interest of the gun lobby,” Ferguson said. “The devastation of mass shootings extends far beyond the casualties and injuries. Mass shootings traumatize entire communities. We must stop selling these weapons of war in Washington.”
“Assault weapons have contributed to some of the deadliest shootings over the last decade, and keeping more of them out of our communities will make Washington a safer place,” Gov. Inslee said. “I applaud the bill sponsors and the Attorney General’s Office for helping advance this crucial public safety measure.”
“We have a crisis of gun violence in this country, and it is only escalating,” Rep. Peterson said. “Too many of our neighbors’ lives have been cut short. In 2016, a 19-year-old here in Mukilteo used an assault rifle to end three lives and upend countless more. I am proud that we passed this legislation off of the house floor. We need to continue to take real, tangible action to curb gun violence in our state. Getting this bill to the governor’s desk will be a major step forward.”
“It is time we put children before the gun industry and people before profit,” Sen. Kuderer said. “We passed common-sense gun safety legislation last year because the data shows when shooters have more bullets, they use them. We’re back this year because the research tells us when shooters get to attach red dot sites, foregrips, collapsible buttstocks and lasers: they use them in our classrooms. Assault weapons are favored by mass shooters precisely because they are able to mow down many people in a short period of time. This isn’t a game. This is real and these are the lives of our most vulnerable community members. There is no place for weapons of war on our streets, our schools and in our neighborhoods.”
Two different statewide polls in the last year show that Washingtonians overwhelmingly support banning assault weapons.
A July poll, sponsored by The Seattle Times, KING 5, the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public and Washington State University’s Murrow College of Communication, found that more than 60 percent of Washingtonians support a ban on assault weapons in the state. More Washingtonians supported a ban than opposed it on both sides of the Cascades, the poll found.
A poll released in June performed by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute similarly found that 56 percent of Washington voters support a ban on the sale of assault weapons.