Landmark legislation requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee that would subject the gun industry to much needed accountability won approval in the Washington State Senate today by a vote of 28 to 21.
“The Firearm Industry Responsibility & Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Act ensures that firearms manufacturers and sellers will face liability if they fail to establish, implement and enforce reasonable controls in the manufacture, sale, distribution and marketing of firearms to keep them out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office says.
Prime sponsored by Senator Jamie Pedersen, SSB 5078 would, as described in the nonpartisan staff report prepared for the substitute version of the bill:
- Require firearm industry members [manufacturers, dealers] to establish, implement and enforce reasonable controls regarding the manufacture, sale, distribution, import, use, and marketing of the firearm industry members’ firearm and firearm-related products.
- Prohibit firearm industry members from creating or maintaining a public nuisance. [Nuisance means a substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of another person’s property.]
- Authorize the attorney general to investigate suspected violations of
firearm industry members’ duties and to enforce actions against such firearm industry members.
SSB 5078 is one of three pivotal gun safety bills under consideration in this year’s session. The others are a proposed assault weapons ban and permit to purchase.
Adoption of this law would get rid of the legal shield that gunmakers and gun dealers currently enjoy, improving access to justice for victims of gun violence.
“This policy will ensure that the gun industry is treated like every other industry and faces real consequences for irresponsible conduct,” Ferguson said. “Today’s important vote is a significant step toward improving public safety in Washington.”
“This legislation provides accountability for a gun industry that has too often failed to take necessary precautions to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands,” Governor Inslee said. “Industry negligence costs lives — this bill lets the industry know we won’t abide this status quo any longer.”
“We must ensure that firearms dealers and manufacturers are held accountable when they fail to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” Senator Pedersen (D‑43rd District: Seattle) said. “Victims of gun violence in our state deserve access to justice. It is past time for the gun industry to face real consequences for irresponsible sales and marketing practices.”
SSB 5078 is similar to legislation already adopted in Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and California that has withstood legal challenges from the right wing.
The roll call on SSB 5078 was as follows:
Firearm industry duties
3rd Reading & Final Passage
Yeas: 28; Nays: 21
Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Cleveland, Conway, Dhingra, Frame, Hasegawa, Hunt, Kauffman, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, Lovick, Mullet, Nguyen, Nobles, Pedersen, Randall, Robinson, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Shewmake, Stanford, Trudeau, Valdez, Wellman, Wilson (Claire)
Voting Nay: Senators Boehnke, Braun, Dozier, Fortunato, Gildon, Hawkins, Holy, King, MacEwen, McCune, Muzzall, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Torres, Van De Wege, Wagoner, Warnick, Wilson (Jeff), Wilson (Lynda)
Democratic Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D‑24th District: Olympic Peninsula) voted against the legislation. Otherwise, the vote was along party lines, with Democratic senators supportive and Republicans opposed.
The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.
One of Van De Wege’s colleagues from the 24th, Representative Steve Tharinger, is a sponsor of the House companion bill, HB 1130, which did not advance in that chamber (owing to the Senate’s prioritization of SB 5078).
NPI thanks the Senate for once again voting to protect our communities from the scourge of gun violence. Mass shootings and suicides committed with a firearm are preventable. New laws like SSB 5078 will save lives and ensure justice for families tragically afflicted by gun violence.