Washington Becomes 10th State To Ban Semi-Automatic Rifles

The owner of a Washington State gun store / Getty Images
April 20, 2023

The Washington State Legislature on Wednesday sent a bill to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee's desk that will ban semi-automatic rifles.

The measure, which Inslee is expected to sign into law, will "block the sale, distribution, manufacture, and importation of more than 50 gun models, including AR-15s, AK-47s, and similar style rifles," the Associated Press reported. Sales to law enforcement agencies and the military are excepted from the law, and individuals who already possess these kinds of weapons will be able to keep them.

Washington's is one of dozens of Democrat-led state legislatures pushing gun control policies as solutions to mass shootings. Nine other states, including California, New York, and Massachusetts, have already enacted similar bans on these rifles. The state of Washington "will not accept gun violence as normal," Inslee said after the bill passed.

A federal ban on semi-automatic rifles is still rumbling in President Joe Biden's White House, though the president has been unclear on the extent of the restrictions. "We're going to ban assault weapons again, come hell or high water, and high-capacity magazines," Biden told House Democrats in March.

The White House on Wednesday welcomed three Tennessee Democratic state legislators who faced expulsion for provoking a gun control protest that disrupted state House proceedings. The protests came after a female shooter, who identified as transgender and was receiving treatment for an "emotional disorder," according to police, killed six people at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee.

Biden wanted to "thank [the legislators] for speaking out and standing their ground and being very clear about what's needed for our community," White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday.

Republican lawmakers oppose Washington's gun ban, arguing that it infringes on citizens' Second Amendment rights.

"HB 1240 clearly violates our state and federal constitutions, which is why it will end up in court immediately," Republican state senator Lynda Wilson said.

The Washington Legislature already passed two gun related bills this year, the AP reported:

Another gun-control bill that passed in Washington this session would allow people whose family members die from gun violence to sue if a manufacturer or seller "is irresponsible in how they handle, store, or sell those weapons." Under the state's consumer-protection act, the attorney general could file a lawsuit against manufacturers or sellers for negligently allowing their guns to be sold to minors, or to people buying guns legally in order to sell them to someone who can't lawfully have them.

A second bill would require gun buyers to show they've taken safety training. It would also impose a 10-day waiting period for all gun purchases—something that's already mandatory in Washington when buying a semi-automatic rifle.