Washington State’s Ban on Assault Weapons


Laci Avne, Staff Writer

After past attempts, the Washington State Legislature finally passed a bill banning the sale, production, and import of assault weapons within the state. The governor, Jay Inslee, is predicted to sign this into law. The bill is an emergency clause, meaning it will go into effect immediately after being signed. This would make Washington the 11th state to join California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York in banning these sales.

Assault weapons are legal in the United States, with the only restrictions being specific laws placed against them in a handful of states. The ban will allow gun manufacturers to sell inventory already in stock before Jan. 1, 2023, and only to out-of-state clients for 90 days after the bill goes into effect. These weapons will still be legal to own in the state if purchased before the ban was put in place. There are exceptions to these rules for those in the military and veterans.

The topic of assault weapons is a touchy one. Many people who favor these guns believe it is part of their second amendment right, while others say that the founding fathers wouldn’t have expected these weapons to exist. Regardless, it wasn’t written with these cases in mind, and it could be said that nobody expected the outpour of mass shootings; hence, legislators further pushed the ban. 


In 2023, there have been more mass shootings than days. This growth in these attacks has further sparked the discussion of gun control. State senator Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, said, “We have to take stock of the common denominator in all these tragedies. … When talking about mass shootings and killing people quickly and without warning, we’re talking about assault weapons. And that’s why we’re here today. We’re here to say enough is enough.” 

These weapons behave differently than other guns by firing one bullet per trigger and automatic reloading, allowing for many consecutive shots. Some people claim the real problem is mental health issues and that criminals will find a way to obtain weapons regardless of the laws. But Washington is taking a different approach to solving this ever-growing problem. Senator Marko Liias, D-Everett, combats these claims by saying, “Will they stop every act of criminal conduct in our state? Of course not.” But, the assault weapon ban would halt sales of “categories of weapons never intended for civilian ownership.”

It can only be hoped that the state’s efforts in decreasing assault weapon altercations will be successful and that other states will also seek similar reforms.