Governor signs historic gun safety legislation into law

Olympia – Over 2,500 mass shootings in four years. That’s more than one mass shooting every day. This is the reality facing families and communities across the nation, but lawmakers in Washington state hope to change that. 

Today, Gov. Jay Inslee signed three historic gun safety measures into law that will collectively prohibit the sale and distribution of assault weapons, require safety training and a 10-day waiting period to purchase a firearm, and hold firearm retailers and manufacturers accountable for the harm their weapons can cause. 

“Gun violence rips loved ones from their families, devastates our communities, and traumatizes our children again and again,” said Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds) who sponsored House Bill 1240. “Students everywhere have been speaking up, demanding we do something to protect them. We’ve stepped up to answer them. With the Governor’s signature today, we’re sending a clear message to our kids: we hear you and we are acting to keep you safe.” 

HB 1240 prohibits the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any assault weapon. The legislation defines assault weapons through a list of specific firearms and a list of attributes, echoing definitions in other states. Current owners can keep assault weapons they currently own, and licensed dealers are permitted supply any branch of the military or law enforcement agency. 

“Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children in our country,” said Rep. Liz Berry (D-Seattle) who sponsored House Bill 1143. “As a mom of two little ones and as a person who has lost someone who I love to gun violence, this is devastating to me. It’s simple: these bills will save lives.” 

HB 1143 requires a 10-day waiting period and proof of completed safety training for all firearm purchases. The new requirements mirror those overwhelmingly approved by Washington voters in 2018 through I-1639, which applied to semiautomatic rifles. 

Inslee also signed SB 5078, introduced by Sen. Jamie Pedersen, to require firearm manufacturers and retailers to take reasonable steps to enforce existing laws, track their inventories, and prevent sales to straw purchasers or those at risk of harming themselves or others. 

Now signed, HB 1240 takes effect immediately, while SB 5078 will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session and HB 1143 will take effect January 1, 2024.

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