Gov. Jay Inslee signed three new pieces of legislation into law on Wednesday concerning new regulations on guns.
- Senate Bill 5078 concerns “high-capacity” magazines in the state. The law will prohibit importing, distributing, manufacturing, selling or offering for sale of high-capacity magazines, which are defined as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
- House Bill 1705 concerns untraceable firearms, also known as “ghost guns.” The law will prohibit “manufacturing, causing to be manufactured, assembling, causing to be assembled, selling, offering to sell, transferring, or purchasing” of untraceable firearms.
- House Bill 1630 adds restrictions to where Washingtonians can carry weapons. Open carrying weapons will now be prohibited at local government facilities, or locations where local government meetings take place. Possession of weapons will also now be prohibited at school board meetings and election-related facilities.
Among those in attendance at the ceremony were Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Democratic state legislators and individuals who’ve been affected by gun violence. The Attorney General’s office also points to studies that have concluded that gun magazine limits reduce the incidence of mass shootings and save lives.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I CURRENTLY OWN A “HIGH-CAPACITY” MAGAZINE?
Nothing. The legislature got rid of the language in the bill that would have regulated possession, so anyone in the state of Washington who currently owns, or who purchases high-capacity magazines before the law goes into effect will still be within the law. Once the law goes into effect, Washingtonians can no longer purchase high-capacity magazines in-state, online, or from another state. The law bans the importation, distribution, manufacture, sale or offer for sale of high-capacity magazines.
IS ANYONE EXEMPT FROM THE NEW LAWS?
Yes. Licensed firearms dealers can still sell high-capacity magazines to all branches of the military and to law enforcement agencies. Exemptions for who can carry weapons at certain facilities include federal, state and local law enforcement officials.
WHEN DO THESE LAWS GO INTO EFFECT?
The ban on high-capacity magazines goes into effect 90 days after the adjournment of the session, which ended on March 10. That means it goes into effect June 8.
The “manufacturing, causing to be manufactured, assembling, causing to be assembled, selling, offering to sell, transferring, or purchasing” of untraceable firearms will be prohibited after June 30. Restrictions on guns at school board meetings, local government meetings and election facilities goes into effect 90 days after the adjournment of the session, or June 8.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR BREAKING THE NEW LAWS?
Violations of the firearms magazine ban are punishable by a gross misdemeanor. These crimes carry a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and $5,000 fine. Violators of the ban on ghost guns can expect to pay $500 for the first offense. Second offenses can expect a misdemeanor, while three-time offenses can lead to a gross misdemeanor. Anyone who is caught with three or more ghost guns at once could potentially face a gross misdemeanor.
Violations of weapons restrictions at certain locations can expect a misdemeanor on the first offense, and a gross misdemeanor on the second offense.
My opinion? A constitutional challenge to the gun magazine law is likely. On Wednesday, the Nevada-based Firearms Policy Coalition announced it’s seeking plaintiffs to lead a lawsuit against the new law. Ferguson, however, expressed confidence the courts will uphold the law. Last November, a panel of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar ban enacted by California.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Firearm Offenses or any other crimes. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.