End-of-session wrap-up series: firearms bills headed to Governor’s desk

End-of-session wrap-up series

The legislative session ended just in the nick of time recently, and I wanted to provide a run-down of what I worked on this session. Follow along with the next few editions of my e-newsletter for a series of highlights on important legislation we passed. We had many great accomplishments for the climate and environment, health care costs, housing affordability, higher education affordability, and education funding, just to name a few. I welcome your feedback on additional issues to highlight.

Keeping communities safe: Firearms bills headed to Governor’s desk

Now is the time for common-sense gun legislation. Passage of recent initiatives show that voters remain ahead of the legislature on keeping guns away from people intent on doing harm, but the legislature is finally catching up. This session, we passed the following measures that will address gun violence.

Protecting domestic violence victims, families, and law enforcement officers (HB 1225)

Addresses the deadly combination of domestic violence and firearms by requiring law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms they have probable cause to believe were threatened or used at the time of a domestic violence call. Officers must also temporarily remove firearms in plain sight and request consent to remove any firearms the alleged abuser has access to until a court hearing is held.

Ensuring proper background checks for CPL transfers (HB 1465)

The FBI is discontinuing courtesy National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks for concealed pistol license (CPL) holders in Washington state. These checks have allowed CPL holders to walk out of the shop with a pistol the day it is purchased. Without them, there is a public safety risk because a person could present a CPL that is duplicated or forged or that should be revoked because of a disqualifying conviction. These background checks are important to protecting Washingtonians. With this bill, CPL holders will go through a local law enforcement background check.

Banning “ghost guns” (HB 1739)

Untraceable and undetectable firearms are also referred to as “ghost guns” since they do not have serial numbers and may not contain enough metal components to be picked up by common metal detectors. The bill makes it illegal to manufacture, buy, sell, or possess an undetectable firearm in most circumstances. With 3D print technology becoming more widely used, this is an attempt to get out ahead of a potential major public safety concern regarding consumer production of 3D-printed guns.

Improving procedures for protection orders (HB 1786)

For too long, our standards for firearm removals for a protective order, no contact order and restraining order, or extreme risk protection order have been inconsistent. This has made it confusing and difficult for victims, courts, and law enforcement. This bill essentially aligns the ways in which law enforcement serves and implements these orders with our approach to extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs). This makes sense since 70% of the voters in Washington voted for ERPOs.

Single point of contact background check system (HB 1949)

Since the FBI is discontinuing the courtesy National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks in our state, there is an urgent need for a single point of contact firearm background check system. This bill conducts a feasibility study to examine and make recommendations about how such a system would be established.

Extreme risk protection orders (SB 5027) –

This bill came from a recommendation of the Mass Shooting Workgroup, which met during the 2018 interim. It is meant to help keep firearms out of the hands of minors who are at a high risk of hurting themselves or others during a behavioral health crisis or through potential violent behavior. Allows petitions for Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) to be applied to people under the age of 18 which, if approved, would prohibit the minor from accessing, controlling, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm. The minor’s parent or guardian would be notified of their legal obligation to safely secure any firearms.

Reducing the risk of suicide and murder-suicide (SB 5181)

There is evidence of increased risk of suicide or murder-suicide when a person is released from a 72-hour involuntary treatment hold. When someone is in crisis, giving them time to cool down and get the help they need saves lives. This bill imposes a six-month suspension on a person’s right to possess a firearm when the person is detained under the Involuntary Treatment Act.

Closing a loophole for safer communities (SB 5205)

This bill closes a loophole in the law created by accident a few years ago. A person who is incompetent to stand trial and has a history of violence is not competent to have a firearm. Under this bill, they are prohibited from possessing a firearm unless the court restores their firearm rights.


Thanks for taking the time to read this update,