Friday, January 27, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Washington state sets sights on gun control in next legislative session

Washington state is doubling down against gun violence with two new measures that — if passed by lawmakers — would join the state's bans on ghost guns and high-capacity magazines.

(CN) — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee said Monday they will ask lawmakers to ban military-style assault weapons and require gun manufacturers and dealers to take reasonable steps to prevent their products from getting into the hands of dangerous individuals.

According to the joint announcement, The Firearm Industry Responsibility and Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Act ensures that firearms manufactures and sellers face liability if they fail to establish, implement and enforce reasonable controls in the manufacture, sale, distribution and marketing of firearms. Failing to do so would be a violation of the state Consumer Protection Act and its public nuisance law.

The bill would also allow those injured or killed as a result of illegal firearms industry conduct to pursue damages under Washington law, offering a potential bypass to the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed in 2005 — a law that gave gun manufacturers and dealers immunity from civil suits for crimes committed with their products.

“Our state can and should hold irresponsible gun dealers and manufacturers civilly liable for the harms their products cause,” state Senator Jamie Pedersen, a Democrat from Seattle who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “We have taken this approach for decades with automobiles, pharmaceuticals, toxic building materials and other dangerous products, dramatically improving public safety.”

The bill is also sponsored by state Representative David Hackney, a Democrat from Tukwila.

“All businesses should be held accountable for harm that they cause, both intentional harm — like flooding the market with more firearms that can be reasonably sold by licensed dealers — or unintentional harm caused by irresponsible business practices,” Hackney said in a statement.

The second bill renews the call to ban military-style assault weapons, which Ferguson first attempted in 2017 following a 2016 mass shooting at house party in the Seattle suburb of Mukilteo. The bill is sponsored by state Senator Patty Kuderer, a Democrat from Bellevue, and state Representative Strom Peterson, a Democrat from Edmonds.

“These policies will save lives and ensure that the gun industry faces real consequences for irresponsible sales and marketing practices,” Ferguson said in a statement. “It’s time to act.”

During the state’s last legislative session, lawmakers banned the sale of high-capacity magazines over 10 rounds, a law similar to one in Oregon that was stalled by a county judge on Dec. 15. Washington’s ban went into effect in July 2022.

As of 2019, the Evergreen State also prohibits the manufacture and possession of untraceable and undetectable “ghost guns” in addition sending 3D-printable gun files to those who cannot legally possess firearms.

“I’m proud to stand alongside Attorney General Bob Ferguson once again on this issue,” Governor Inslee said in a statement. “I am sick and tired of the drumbeat of headlines announcing devastating losses of life due to gun violence. I want kids safe at school. I want crowds safe at concerts. I want police safe on the job.”

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...