Sign calling for a ban on assault weapons
A sign calling for a ban on assault weapons, captured at the March for Our Lives 2022 in Washington, D.C. by Victoria Pickering.

Tonight, Wash­ing­ton took a big step towards a safer future with the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ approval of leg­is­la­tion request­ed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Fer­gu­son and Gov­er­nor Inslee that would final­ly ban mil­i­tary-style assault weapons.

By a vote of 55–38, the House sent HB 1240 on to the Sen­ate for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion. Prime spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Strom Peter­son, the bill “prohibits the man­u­fac­ture, impor­ta­tion, dis­tri­b­u­tion, sale, or offer for sale of any assault weapon, sub­ject to var­i­ous excep­tions for licensed firearm man­u­fac­tur­ers and deal­ers, and for indi­vid­u­als who inher­it an assault weapon.”

It also pro­vides that “a vio­la­tion of these restric­tions con­sti­tutes a gross mis­de­meanor and is action­able under the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act.”

“The House today put pub­lic safe­ty above the inter­est of the gun lob­by,” Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son said. “The dev­as­ta­tion of mass shoot­ings extends far beyond the casu­al­ties and injuries. Mass shoot­ings trau­ma­tize entire com­mu­ni­ties. We must stop sell­ing these weapons of war in Washington.”

“Assault weapons have con­tributed to some of the dead­liest shoot­ings over the last decade, and keep­ing more of them out of our com­mu­ni­ties will make Wash­ing­ton a safer place,” Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee said.

“I applaud the bill spon­sors and the Attor­ney General’s Office for help­ing advance this cru­cial pub­lic safe­ty measure.”

“We have a cri­sis of gun vio­lence in this coun­try, and it is only esca­lat­ing,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Peter­son (also a Sno­homish Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber) observed.

“Too many of our neigh­bors’ lives have been cut short. In 2016, a 19-year-old here in Muk­il­teo used an assault rifle to end three lives and upend count­less more. I am proud that we passed this leg­is­la­tion off of the House floor. We need to con­tin­ue to take real, tan­gi­ble action to curb gun vio­lence in our state. Get­ting this bill to the governor’s desk will be a major step forward.”

“It is time we put chil­dren before the gun indus­try and peo­ple before prof­it,” said Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er, prime spon­sor of the com­pan­ion bill in the Sen­ate. Kud­er­er rep­re­sents NPI’s home­town of Red­mond along with Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhingra.

“We passed com­mon-sense gun safe­ty leg­is­la­tion last year because the data shows when shoot­ers have more bul­lets, they use them. We’re back this year because the research tells us when shoot­ers get to attach red dot sites, fore­grips, col­lapsi­ble butt­stocks and lasers: they use them in our class­rooms. Assault weapons are favored by mass shoot­ers pre­cise­ly because they are able to mow down many peo­ple in a short peri­od of time. This isn’t a game. This is real and these are the lives of our most vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. There is no place for weapons of war on our streets, our schools and in our neighborhoods.”

The Attor­ney Gen­er­al’s press release cel­e­brat­ing the pas­sage of the bill not­ed that the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s polling has found extreme­ly strong sup­port among like­ly vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton for an assault weapons ban.

That sup­port stood at 56% last June and was sub­se­quent­ly cor­rob­o­rat­ed by a poll con­duct­ed by Sur­veyUSA for its part­ners. A new statewide NPI poll just back from the field today found that sup­port had increased slight­ly, to 58%, which shows that vot­er enthu­si­asm for this crit­i­cal law is not only rock sol­id, but growing.

Our team is very hap­py to see this bill leave the House as the final action tak­en on cut­off day. It’s about time! Thank you, Representatives!

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
HB 1240
Firearms/assault weapons
3rd Read­ing & Final Passage

Yeas: 55; Nays: 42; Excused: 1

Vot­ing Yea: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Alvara­do, Bate­man, Berg, Bergquist, Berry, Bronoske, Callan, Chap­man, Chopp, Cortes, Davis, Doglio, Don­aghy, Duerr, Enten­man, Fari­var, Fey, Fitzgib­bon, Fos­se, Good­man, Gregerson, Hack­ney, Klo­ba, Leav­itt, Lekanoff, Macri, Mena, Mor­gan, Orms­by, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Paul, Peter­son, Pol­let, Ramel, Ramos, Reed, Reeves, Ric­cel­li, Ryu, San­tos, Senn, Sim­mons, Slat­ter, Springer, Stearns, Stonier, Street, Tay­lor, Thai, Tharinger, Tim­mons, Walen, Wylie, Jinkins

Vot­ing Nay: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Abbarno, Barkis, Barnard, Caldier, Cham­bers, Chan­dler, Cheney, Chris­t­ian, Con­nors, Cor­ry, Cou­ture, Dent, Dye, Eslick, Goehn­er, Gra­ham, Grif­fey, Har­ris, Hutchins, Jacob­sen, Klick­er, Kretz, Low, May­cum­ber, McClin­tock, McEn­tire, Mos­bruck­er, Orcutt, Robert­son, Rude, Rule, San­dlin, Schmick, Schmidt, Shavers, Steele, Stokes­bary, Volz, Walsh, Waters, Wilcox, Ybarra

Excused: Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Hansen

No Repub­li­cans sup­port­ed the bill. That’s dis­ap­point­ing, but not unexpected.

Two Democ­rats vot­ed nay: New State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Clyde Shavers (D‑10th Dis­trict: Island and Sno­homish Coun­ties) and State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ali­cia Rule (D‑42nd Dis­trict: What­com Coun­ty). Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Drew Hansen, who is bat­tling COVID-19, was excused from the vote. The cau­cus could have afford­ed to have lost five more votes and still passed the bill. How­ev­er, it passed more com­fort­ably than that, show­ing that Democ­rats know this is leg­is­la­tion the peo­ple want.

HB 1240 now heads to the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate for fur­ther consideration.

What a great vic­to­ry to be able to cel­e­brate on the final day for bills to be con­sid­ered in their cham­ber of ori­gin in the 2023 leg­isla­tive session!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts