State Senate backs ban on sale of assault-style weapon, again

Senators debated and voted for a second time, after the House rejected what they passed April 8.

OLYMPIA — For the second time in 10 days, the state Senate has approved legislation aimed at banning the sale of assault-style weapons.

The Democrat-controlled Senate on Tuesday passed House Bill 1240 banning the manufacture, distribution and sale of certain semiautomatic firearms on a nearly party-line 28-21 vote. One Democrat, Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Port Angeles, joined all Republicans in opposing the measure.

Senators spent nearly 3½ hours debating and passing the measure the day before Easter, then sent it to the House for final action.

But the House didn’t concur, ruling changes made by the Senate out of order and sending it back — prompting Tuesday’s redux.

This time, majority Democrats rejected every amendment proposed by Republican senators including removing the emergency clause, the presence of which prevents a referendum. Then they voted again.

“America has a gun violence problem. It has a gun violence epidemic. It’s time we act like the responsible adults people demand we act like,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, who sponsored the same bill in the Senate.

“We have to be willing to put people before profit and people before guns.”

Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, a retired U.S. Navy commander who dissented, lamented the Senate rejected language to study the effect of the legislation to reduce gun violence.

“It’s not going to make a difference. It’s not going to change anything,” he said.

The bill now goes back to the House for its expected concurrence, then to Gov. Jay Inslee for his expected signing.

Under the bill, 61 specific firearms, defined broadly as semiautomatic pistols and semiautomatic rifles with detachable ammunition magazines, would be outlawed. Among them are AK-47s in all forms, Uzi 9 mm carbines, AR-15s, M16s and Beretta AR70 and S70 semiautomatics.

There are exceptions for manufacture and sale to law enforcement and the military. It does not bar the possession of assault weapons.

Once the bill is signed, gun dealers will have 90 days to sell any stock purchased before Jan. 1, 2023, to people outside of Washington.

Washington is poised to join eight states with similar assault weapon restrictions. Like elsewhere, Washington’s legislation is almost certain to be challenged in court. To date, bans in those other states have withstood legal challenge, according to Washington’s attorney general’s office.


Jerry Cornfield writes for the Everett Daily Herald, a sister newspaper to the Peninsula Daily News under Sound Publishing, Inc. Reach him at 360-352-8623 and