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Bellingham Retail Stores Beef Up Security in Response to Rising Crime

Gold fever sweeps the criminal underworld

Excellent article in the Cascadia Weekly by Ralph Schwartz describes how Bellingham retail stores are increasing security in response to rising crime.

Thefts in Bellingham’s downtown core peaked in March 2022, according to the city’s crime statistics webpage. Apparently, this is part of a broader citywide crime wave that hit Bellingham in the latter stages of the COVID-19 pandemic for a variety of reasons.

Among them was overcrowding at the jail, which prompted the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office to stop booking nonviolent offenders.  The police department was short on officers. Finally, new state laws made it more difficult for police to engage with suspected criminals.

Bellingham’s Meridian neighborhood also reported thefts peaked in the summer of 2022. This neighborhood includes Bellis Fair mall and major retails such as Home Depot and Walmart. The neighborhood averaged four reported thefts a day in June through August of last year.

The shoplifting problem isn’t limited to Bellingham. Nationally, retail theft was growing before the pandemic, reaching $68.9 billion in stolen goods in 2019, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association. A more recent survey by the National Retail Federation reported that overall shrinkage, which includes theft, damaged goods and other losses, reached $94.5 billion in 2021, up 4% compared to 2020, with much of that attributed to a rise in organized crime.

According to the article, large-scale retailers like Home Depot have armed their security guards. This comes in response to Organized Retail Theft operations originating from a nearby Homeless encampment.

“Organized retail crime is an ongoing issue, and it has been on the rise over the last several years for many retailers . . . We have a multitude of initiatives in place to mitigate, including human and technology resources, to make theft in our stores more difficult; close partnerships with law enforcement; and significant efforts working with federal and state task forces to fight this problem.” ~Evelyn Fornes, Senior manager of communications and advocacy for The Home Depot

Washington also has the second highest per capita rate of retail theft of any state in the country after Pennsylvania. In 2021, 23,323 cases of shoplifting were reported in Washington state. Seattle also ranked eighth among large cities for retail crime in 2021.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Theft or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Why Retail Is Focused on Organized Crime

Retail theft ring: $2M in merchandise recovered, 3 arrested, Wilmette police say - ABC7 Chicago

Great article by journalist Eric Rosenbaum discusses why large retail stores see an increase in Organized Retail Theft.


“The country has a retail theft problem,” Home Depot CFO Richard McPhail said on a call with CNBC on Tuesday after its earnings. “We’re confident in our ability to mitigate and blunt that pressure, but that pressure certainly exists out there.” Home Depot’s vice president of asset protection had told CNBC in March crime is increasing at double-digit rates.

According to the article, Target said organized retail crime will reach $500 million more in stolen and lost merchandise this year compared with a year ago. On its earnings call, Target CEO Brian Cornell said retail theft is “a worsening trend that emerged last year.” Retailers are convinced the crime trend is rising. Complicting matters, the trend is not simply a shoplifting issue reflecting tougher economic times for Americans. The trends show an increasin in the work of organized retail crime networks.


The National Retail Federation says Organized Retail Crime is the main reason for retail “shrink.” This is defined as a mismatch between actual inventory and what is on the books — which reached $94.5 billion in 2021, an increase of almost $4 billion year over year.

Its president Matt Shay told CNBC on Thursday that the issue isn’t going away. “Conversations we’ve had with members over the last several years indicate it is getting to be a really acute and serious problem,” and as far as the annual numbers, remains “growing.” While theft is “manifesting itself in stores with acts of violence,” Shay stressed that in-store, individual crime is not the biggest scope of the problem. It’s not people shoplifting an individual item for personal use.

These days, shoplifting is a big part of organized crime. Target chief financial officer Michael Fiddelke had said after its earnings in November 2022 that shoplifting jumped about 50% year over and year, resulting in over $400 million in losses in the fiscal year, and Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon issued another warning about the rising threat on CNBC in December.

“This is very sophisticated local, state, national and transnational organizations, organized not just to steal at the store level, but throughout the entire supply chain … on the docks, on trucks, off ships, through containers, on the railways. This is a really persistent problem and it’s across the supply chain,” ~Matt Shay, President of National Retail Federation.


That matches CargoNet data recently provided to CNBC by insurance company Travelers, which has a special investigations group and works with law enforcement to recover stolen goods. It found food and beverage coming into port or in a warehouse is No. 1 on the list of products being targeted by freight thieves who are increasing their criminal activity across the national supply chain, with household goods and electronics still high on the list of cargo thieves.

Physical theft is still the No. 1 method used by thieves in the supply chain, but they are getting more sophisticated, creating fictitious pickups through use of identity theft — pretending to be trucking companies, including infiltrating online freight management systems and freight brokerage phone lines.

“A lot of times, they will get away with it,” Scott Cornell, transportation lead and crime and theft specialist at insurance provider Travelers, recently told CNBC. It has tracked a 600% increase in this form of cargo crime.

Cargo theft is occurring at multiple points in an item’s journey, with the NRF finding that theft “en route from distribution centers to stores” was the top target, at 47.4%; followed by cargo theft at stores, at 42.1%, and cargo “en route from manufacturers to distribution centers,” at 35.1%.


The National Retail Federation is lobbying for the Combatting Organized Retail Crime Act, which would create a function within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to elevate the theft issue to a national issue. It would also allow the DHS to coordinate with law enforcement across the country, provide resources, and report to Congress.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Theft or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

WA State Patrol Uses Helicopters to Pursue Fleeing Suspects

Helicopter closely chases a race car in this insane stunt - Vidéo Dailymotion

Nowadays, the WA State Patrol shall deploy “aviation tactics” to respond to increased incidents of street racing.

“WSP along with other law enforcement agencies has experienced an increase in the number of vehicles fleeing attempted traffic stops yet it is imperative this criminal behavior is addressed in the safest manner possible to hold these individuals accountable.  The WSP is addressing this issue with the invaluable assistance of the Aviation Section.” ~Press Release, WA State Patrol

Apparently, four recent incidents occurred where arrests were made using a helicopter.  The pilot guided ground units to suspect vehicles.

Incident #1 – WSP aircraft observed a vehicle traveling SB SR 167 in Auburn at 97mph and passing on the shoulder.  They followed the vehicle as it exited the freeway and at one point in time seemed to be racing other vehicles.  The vehicle ended up in a drive thru and when it exited troopers were able to arrest the driver.  Numerous charges to include suspicion of DUI!

Incident #2 – This incident is where a vehicle was doing doughnuts in front of a trooper in Kent.  The vehicle fled an attempted traffic stop and was followed by the aircraft.  After the aircraft followed the vehicle all over the South Center area the ground units were led to where the vehicle parked near a warehouse and the driver was taken into custody.

Incident #3 – The aircraft spotted a vehicle NB 167 traveling at 107mph heading to what was believed to be a racer meetup. The vehicle fled an attempted traffic stop by a trooper and was followed by the aircraft where speeds reached 118mph. The vehicle was followed all over the South Center area until it reached a meetup where a number of vehicles were blocking the road.  The vehicle was trapped by the other vehicles and troopers were able to make an arrest!

Incident #4 – A trooper followed several street racers and attempted to stop one for speeding.  The vehicle fled into east Auburn into a residential area and entered a home.  Troopers arrived at the residence and were able to talk the driver and passenger out of the house.  The trooper in the aircraft was able to ID the driver by the hoodie they were wearing and a lanyard hanging out of their pocket.  The driver was subsequently arrested.


Street racing is typically an unsanctioned and illegal form of auto racing that occurs on a public road. Racing in the streets is considered hazardous.  Street racing can either be spontaneous or well planned and coordinated. Well-coordinated races are planned in advance and often have people communicating via two-way radios or citizens’ band radio. Participants use  police scanners and GPS units to mark locations where local police are more prevalent.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Reckless Driving or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Hotel Room Hosts Can’t Consent To Police Searching Other Guest’s Bags

Single-use plastic bags will be banned in Colorado by 2024 with bag fees set to start in 2023 under new law

In State v. Giberson, No. 56081-0-II (April 4, 2023), the WA Court of Appeals held that the host of a hotel room lacks authority allowing police to search a guest’s grocery bags located inside the room.  A person has a reasonable privacy interest in grocery bags, which are are “traditional repositories of personal belongings.”


In May of 2020, police received a tip from a confidential informant that Mr. Giberson planned a drug deal at a nearby motel. Police journeyed to the motel. They conducted surveillance of room #106. Police contacted a person named Mr. Goedker after Goedker departed room #106.

Goedker stated that he was the sole occupant of motel room #106. He said he had been residing there for approximately 10 days. He stated that the defendant Mr. Giberson had stopped by earlier that day. Giberson and a person named Ms. Hopkins remained in the room. Goedker said that there were bags in the motel room belonging to Giberson.

Police opened the door to Room #106. They saw Giberson and an associate sitting at a table. Both Giberson and the associate were detained and removed from the room.

The detectives then searched two plastic grocery bags on the floor next to the door. Inside one of the grocery bags they found a digital scale and two baggies containing heroin.  After searching the bags, police asked Goedker if they belonged to him. Goedker denied ownership and stated that the bags belonged to Giberson.

The State charged Giberson with possession of heroin with the intent to deliver. Before trial, Giberson moved to suppress the evidence found in the warrantless search of the plastic grocery bags. The trial court denied the suppression motion. It reasoned that Gibson lacked standing to challenge the search of his bags. Ultimately, the court also found Giberson guilty as charged. Giberson appealed his conviction. He argued that the search of his grocery bags was unlawful because Goedker could not give consent to search his possessions.


First, the Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether Giberson had standing to challenge the search of his bags.

“A defendant has automatic standing under article I, section 7 of the Washington State Constitution to challenge a search when (1) possession is an essential element of the charged offense and (2) the defendant was in possession of the item searched at the time of the challenged search,” said the Court. Here, Giberson has automatic standing to challenge the search. Consequently, the trial court erred in concluding that Giberson did not have standing.

Next, the Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether the search of Gibson’s bags was lawful.

The Court reasoned that warrantless searches are unlawful under the Washington Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Valid consent is an exception allowing for a warrantless search. However, consent to search an area does not necessarily provide authorization to search belongings of a third person inside the area. Here, Goedker did not own, possess, or control Giberson’s grocery bags. Therefore, Goedker did not have authority to consent to the search of Giberson’s bags.

The Court of Appeals further reasoned that a search is unconstitutional if the defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the item searched.  Here, Giberson clearly sought to preserve as private the drugs and digital scale by placing them in his grocery bag. The Court addressed whether Giberson had a privacy interest in storing his belongngs in plastic bags:

“Grocery bags can be characterized as ‘traditional repositories of personal belongings.” People certainly put personal grocery items and other personal items obtained in a grocery store like prescription medications in such bags. And common experience tells us that people also use grocery bags to carry other personal items. For example, this may be true for people such as those experiencing homelessness who may not have space for their personal items. Giberson reasonably could expect that others would not search his grocery bags without his consent. Therefore, we conclude that Giberson had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his grocery bags.” ~WA Court of Appeals.

With that, the Court of Appeals concluded that Goedker’s authority to give consent to search his hotel room did not extend to the search of Giberson’s grocery bags. Furthermore, Giberson had a reasonable expectation of privacy in those bags. Therefore, the trial court erred in failing to suppress the heroin and digital scale found in the search of the grocery bags. Giberson’s conviction was reversed.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime involving Search and Seizure. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Washington State Patrol Sees Increase in Drive-By Shootings

Phoenix, Arizona Drive By Shooting Defense Lawyers - Gaxiola & Litwak

Journalist reports in that an alarming trend of Drive-By Shootings are unfolding on our freeways.

So far in 2023, Washington State Patrol responded to 12 drive by shootings in King County, with six cases in the month of March. There were three drive by shootings the week of March 19 alone. One of them happened Sunday on State Route 520. A driver was hospitalized after a bullet when through his backseat. WSP troopers said there are more cases of road rage where aggressive drivers are pulling the trigger behind the wheel.

“People seem to lose their temper quite easily,” said  with WSP Pierce and Thurston counties. “It’s definitely very concerning for all of us to see how lightly people seem to just brandish handguns and just fire shots at other people out in traffic.” ~WA State Patrol Trooper Robert Reyer

Reyer said the shootings are happening outside of King County as well. WSP is looking for the suspect from a drive by Monday in Fife on I-5 southbound near the 54th Avenue East ramp. The suspected car was a teal-colored BMW older model SUV with no license plates. Reyer said the gunman shot once, barely missing the other driver in a pickup truck who was too startled to get details of the suspected car.

“When somebody gets involved in a situation like that where they get shot at, the last thing that they think of in that moment is to grab their cellphone and take a photo or video of that vehicle,” said Reyer.

Troopers asked the public to help be their eyes and ears so investigators could track down the dangerous drivers.

Signs of aggressive driving include high speeds, cutting drivers off, slamming the brakes and of course brandishing a gun. To anyone who sees this behavior, WSP said don’t interact, just call 911 before things escalate. Get as many descriptive details as safely as possible of the suspect car and driver and report it to the authorities.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged Reckless Driving, Drive-By Shooting or any other crime. Self-Defense might be a viable defense if you responded to another driver’s road rage. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Bellingham City Council Rejects Proposal to Ban Public Drug Use

In NYC's overdose crisis, public health approach focuses on correcting pandemic-related disruptions – Bronx Times

The Bellingham City Council has rejected a proposal that would make public drug use a crime. The ordinance would have made the use of a controlled substance in a public place a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

By state law, drug possession is only a misdemeanor on an offender’s third arrest for the crime. On the first two arrests, police are required to refer offenders to drug treatment programs.

The City of Marysville was able to pass two similar city ordinances preventing public drug use late last year. The first ordinance prohibits the use of controlled substances in public without a prescription. The second ordinance will further prohibit inappropriate behavior aboard transit, at park-and-ride lots, or at bus stops.

The city has been grappling with open drug use of fentanyl and other narcotics. Businesses have complained about the impact.

Mayor Seth Fleetwood hoped that his proposals would be the start of improving conditions downtown:

“These actions are the next step in a multi-year focus on downtown, where public health and safety concerns continue despite nearly one million dollars in investments in security personnel, downtown ambassadors, graffiti abatement, sanitation and other services last year and continuing this year.” ~City of Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood.

Apparently, Bellingham police responded to 87 overdose calls this year. That compares to 70 overdose calls in all of 2022. Council members argued that it wasn’t so much they were against the proposal, it was that they did not see an adequate plan to deal with people after they were arrested. Councilmember Hannah Stone was among those who voted against the ordinance.

“If we don’t have a therapeutic court and other options in place at this time, then further criminalizing or trying to arrest our way out of addiction is just insane.” ~Hannah Stone, City of Bellingham Councilmember.

Currently, police can not even tell drug users that using drugs in public is illegal.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Drug Abuse, Mental Health and Arrests

Substance abuse and mental health: the aftereffects of a habit of a  lifetime | British GQ

A Pew Analysis found that adults reporting co-occurring serious or moderate mental illness and substance use disorders in the past year were far more likely to be arrested.

Roughly, the data shows that adults with past-year co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder represented about 2% of the population. However, they made up 15% of all adults who reported being arrested in the past year. Those with a mental illness alone made up a similar share of the adult population in general and of those arrested (8% and 9%, respectively). Most adults with a mental illness who were arrested had a co-occurring disorder (60%). The Pew analysis also revealed that adults with co-occurring disorders made up an even larger share (18%) of all those arrested twice or more in a year.

Here’s more data:

  • Adults with co-occurring disorders made up 2% of the U.S. population but 15% (1 in 7) of all people arrested from 2017 to 2019. Almost half of these individuals had a substance-related arrest, such as drug possession, as the most serious charge.
  • More than 1 in 9 adults with co-occurring disorders were arrested annually, 12 times more often than adults with neither a substance use disorder nor a mental illness, and six times more likely than those with a mental illness alone.
  • Women with co-occurring disorders were arrested 19 times more often than women with neither a substance use disorder nor a mental illness and accounted for more than 1 in 5 of all women arrested.
  • Black adults with co-occurring disorders were arrested 1.5 times more often than their White counterparts.
  • Only 1 in 10 adults with co-occurring disorders (10%) received treatment for both of their conditions.
  • About 2 in 5 adults with co-occurring disorders (42%) did not receive either substance use or mental health treatment of any kind in the prior year.
  • Black and Hispanic adults with co-occurring disorders were less likely to receive mental health or substance use treatmentthan White adults.

About 60% of people with a mental illness who were arrested had a co-occurring substance use disorder. NSDUH doesn’t explicitly ask respondents whether these arrests resulted in time spent in jail, so recent national level data on how many of these arrests led to incarceration is not available. Being arrested and jailed can negatively affect wages, employment, housing stability, physical and mental health, and public safety outcomes, including increasing the likelihood of recidivism.

Researchers have found that communities with more treatment availability may have lower crime and jail incarceration rates, and some jurisdictions are working to divert people with mental illness away from the criminal legal system and into a continuum of community-based care. However, an increased focus on the needs of people with co-occurring disorders—particularly on integrated treatment for both mental illness and substance use—could make an even larger impact on the number of people entering and cycling back through the justice system.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Legislature Considers Banning At-Home Sexual Assault Evidence Kits

MeToo Kit, a DIY rape test, is a bad idea, says Michigan AG Dana Nessel

Seattle Times journalistreports that Washington lawmakers are considering a bipartisan bill prohibiting the sale of over-the-counter sexual assault kits. Apparently, these kits offer false hope and can thwart investigations and prosecutions. They are also not admissible in court.

“I just don’t think people should profit on trauma . . . I think that their heart was probably in the right place in the beginning … but at the end of the day, it’s my job as a legislator to protect people in the state.” ~Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, one of the bill sponsors.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson last year issued a cease-and-desist letter requiring Leda Health to stop distributing its kits. In the letter, Ferguson’s office said the kits violate the state Consumer Protection Act, which bans unfair or deceptive practices. The letter quotes Leda Health’s website, which at the time said “[we] believe though that courts should admit our kit results, especially if all our protocols are followed.” The terms and conditions on the company site said its products and information are not substitutes for professional advice. Moreover, the company “cannot guarantee” evidence collected will be admitted in court.

King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Emily Petersen said her main concern is the kits are being advertised as a way to collect evidence.

“The last thing we want is for a victim or survivor to decide to report a rape or a sexual assault, and only to find out that the evidence that they collected, stored and that they relied on to be admissible is not in fact, admissible.” ~King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Emily Petersen

Information from at-home kits cannot be uploaded to CODIS, the federal DNA database that tracks DNA samples of those convicted of felonies, including sexual assault and rape.

New York issued a cease-and-desist letter in 2019 to two companies selling at-home kits, Preserve Group and #MeToo Kits Company, which would later become Leda Health. The letter said the companies were misleading consumers by saying evidence collected with these kits could be used in court.

States including MichiganOklahomaDelawareHawaiiNew MexicoNorth Carolina and Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C., have issued warnings against buying any at-home sexual assault kits. And legislation similar to Washington’s bill to ban these kits stalled last year in Utah.

My opinion? These products are not admissible in court. Rape evidence must be collected by a specially trained nurse using specific tools. Also, collecting evidence must adhere to a chain of custody to maintain its integrity for use in court. The chain must include how the evidence was collected, who else had access to it and what happened to the evidence after.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Power Grid Attacks Increasing

Power grid attacks reported in Washington, across nation |

Attacks on power substations are growing. Apparently, five states in the Pacific Northwest and Southeast reveal similar incidents of attacks. Vandalism and suspicious activity were on the rise.

Federal energy reports through August – the most recent available – show an increase in physical attacks at electrical facilities across the nation this year, continuing a trend seen since 2017. At least 108 human-related events were reported during the first eight months of 2022, compared with 99 in all of 2021 and 97 in 2020. More than a dozen cases of vandalism have been reported since September.

The attacks have prompted a flurry of calls to better protect the nation’s power grid, but experts have warned for more than three decades that stepped-up protection was needed.


  • At least 20 actual physical attacks were reported, compared with six in all of 2021.
  • Suspicious-activity reports jumped three years ago, nearly doubling in 2020 to 32 events. In the first eight months of this year, 34 suspicious incidents were reported.
  • Total human-related incidents – including vandalism, suspicious activity and cyber events – are on track to be the highest since the reports started showing such activity in 2011.


Since September, attacks or potential attacks have been reported on at least 18 additional substations and one power plant in Florida, Oregon, Washington and the Carolinas. Several involved firearms.

  • In Florida: Six “intrusion events” occurred at Duke Energy substations in September, resulting in at least one brief power outage, according to the News Nation television network, which cited a report the utility sent to the Energy Department. Duke Energy spokesperson Ana Gibbs confirmed a related arrest, but the company declined to comment further.
  • In Oregon and Washington state: Substations were attacked at least six times in November and December, with firearms used in some cases, local news outlets reported. On Christmas Day, four additional substations were vandalized in Washington State, cutting power to more than 14,000 customers.
  • In North Carolina: A substation in Maysville was vandalized on Nov. 11. On Dec. 3, shootings that authorities called a “targeted attack” damaged two power substations in Moore County, leaving tens of thousands without power amid freezing temperatures.
  • In South Carolina: Days later, gunfire was reported near a hydropower plant, but police said the shooting was a “random act.”

The Department of Homeland Security has previously warned that power infrastructure is an “attractive” target for domestic terrorists. Last year, three men pleaded guilty today to crimes related to a scheme to attack power grids in furtherance of white supremacist ideology.

“We have seen attacks such as these increase in Western Washington and throughout the country and must treat each incident seriously . . . The outages on Christmas left thousands in the dark and cold and put some who need power for medical devices at extreme risk.” ~U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.

My opinion? These actions bring criminal charges far more egrigious than your standard Malicious Mischief. If caught, defendants face federal crimes of Sabotage. Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a similar crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

2023 Legislation Aimed at Restricting Firearms

US Senators Reach Agreement to Tighten Gun Laws

Great article by Shauna Sowersby discusses how state lawmakers will again be considering legislation to place restrictions on guns in Washington. The Alliance for Gun Responsibility announced proposed legislation for the upcoming 2023 session:

“Amid record levels of gun violence in Washington and across the US, it is essential to protect and build on the progress we’ve made to keep our communities safe. Our 2023 Legislative Agenda reflects the urgent need for Washington to continue leading the way in adopting innovative policies to prevent gun violence.” ~Alliance for Gun Responsibility


Proposed legislation includes a measure that would put restrictions on semi-automatic assault weapons. The bill will target the supply of assault-style weapons by “prohibiting the manufacture, possession, distribution, importation, transfer, sale, offer for sale, and purchase of any assault weapon.”

Law enforcement and military officials would be exempt from the law. Washington state law defines a semi-automatic assault rifle as “any rifle which uses a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge.”

The proposed legislation also says, “a semi-automatic assault rifle does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.”


The Alliance for Gun Responsibility is also seeking legislation to establish a pathway for victims of gun violence to hold manufacturers and dealers accountable. Also, they’re proposing legislation to require a permit for those who wish to purchase a gun in the state. Currently, gun manufacturers and gun dealers are protected by a 2005 federal law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This gives them immunity from lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence. Permits also are not currently required in Washington, although buyers must submit to a background check and a waiting period before obtaining a gun.


A ban on high-capacity magazines went into effect in July. As a result, Washingtonians can no longer purchase or sell magazines with the ability to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Regulations on untraceable firearms, also known as ghost guns, went into effect this year as well, and in March 2023 possession of an untraceable firearm will be illegal in the state.

Legislation that banned the open carry of weapons at government facilities and where government meetings occur also passed the Legislature and went into effect in June of this year. Possession of weapons is now prohibited at school board meetings and election-related offices.


WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has already signaled that he will not tolerate violations of the bans passed by state Democratic leaders. On Wednesday, he filed a lawsuit and is seeking an injunction against a gun store in Federal Way for selling high-capacity magazines. Federal Way Discount Guns was caught during a sweep of 25 firearms retailers, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s office.

As with previous gun control proposals, Republicans are not happy about the announcement Wednesday from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, said in a press release that it’s unfortunate that legislators must use time and resources to continue debating the gun control issue. He called the proposed assault weapon ban pointless and said he doesn’t believe it will have any impact on the safety of Washingtonians:

“The people of Washington are tired of political grandstanding and unproductive — or counterproductive — legislation. They have said repeatedly they want bipartisan solutions to problems like crime, homelessness, struggling schools, and the rising cost of living. Constitutionally dubious gun-control schemes don’t address any of those real-world problems.” ~Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Firearm Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.