Visualization of NPI's poll finding for the Firearm Industry Responsibility & Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Act
Visualization of NPI's poll finding for the Firearm Industry Responsibility & Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Act (NPI graphic)

Leg­is­la­tion that would oblig­ate gun man­u­fac­tur­ers and retail­ers to impose rea­son­able con­trols pre­vent­ing the diver­sion of firearms and relat­ed prod­ucts to straw pur­chasers, firearm traf­fick­ers, indi­vid­u­als who pose a risk to them­selves or oth­ers has the sup­port of near­ly three in five vot­ers, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s most recent poll of the Wash­ing­ton State elec­torate has found.

59% of vot­ers sur­veyed last month for NPI by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling said they sup­port­ed enact­ing a new law to pro­tect pub­lic safe­ty by estab­lish­ing duties of firearm indus­try mem­bers. 36% said they were opposed and 4% were not sure.

Sen­ate Bill 5078, prime spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Jamie Ped­er­sen (D‑43rd Dis­trict: Seat­tle) would do just that. The bill, request­ed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son is await­ing a vote in the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. It was pulled from Rules on April 7th. It must see floor action before the April 12th oppo­site cham­ber cut-off in order to reach Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s desk.

Visualization of NPI's poll finding for the Firearm Industry Responsibility & Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Act
Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s poll find­ing for the Firearm Indus­try Respon­si­bil­i­ty & Gun Vio­lence Vic­tims’ Access to Jus­tice Act (NPI graphic)

“Our state can and should hold irre­spon­si­ble gun deal­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers civil­ly liable for the harms their prod­ucts cause,” Sen­a­tor Ped­er­sen said in a Decem­ber state­ment unveil­ing the leg­is­la­tion. “We have tak­en this approach for decades with auto­mo­biles, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, tox­ic build­ing mate­ri­als and oth­er dan­ger­ous prod­ucts, dra­mat­i­cal­ly improv­ing pub­lic safety.”

“All busi­ness­es should be held account­able for harm that they cause, both inten­tion­al harm — like flood­ing the mar­ket with more firearms that can be rea­son­ably sold by licensed deal­ers — or unin­ten­tion­al harm caused by irre­spon­si­ble busi­ness prac­tices,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive David Hack­ney said. (Hack­ney, D‑11th Dis­trict / Seat­tle and South King Coun­ty, is the spon­sor of the House com­pan­ion bill).

SB 5078 is the third major gun safe­ty bill that our research has found pub­lic sup­port for this ses­sion. We pre­vi­ous­ly found that sup­port for an assault weapons ban (SHB 1240) had increased slight­ly and that vot­ers love Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Liz Berry and Sen­a­tor Marko Liias’ per­mit-to-pur­chase pro­pos­al, HB 1143.

SHB 1240 and HB 1143 have returned to the House for con­cur­rence votes and are now safe from the April 12th cut-off. But SB 5078 has­n’t cleared the bar yet: it’s up against the cut-off clock. House lead­er­ship knows that it’s is impor­tant and we are hope­ful that it will be brought for­ward for a vote before Wednes­day at 5 PM.

Here is the ques­tion we asked and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose, or strong­ly oppose allow­ing gun man­u­fac­tur­ers and sell­ers to be sued in court if they fail to estab­lish, imple­ment, and enforce rea­son­able con­trols in the man­u­fac­ture, sale, dis­tri­b­u­tion, and mar­ket­ing of guns to keep them out of the hands of dan­ger­ous individuals?


  • Sup­port: 59% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port: 49%
    • Some­what sup­port: 10%
  • Oppose: 36%
    • Some­what oppose: 6%
    • Strong­ly oppose: 30%
  • Not sure: 4%

Our sur­vey of 874 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, March 7th through Wednes­day, March 8th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and online answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

As sum­ma­rized by non­par­ti­san staff in the House, SB 5078 would:

  • Pro­hib­it firearm indus­try mem­bers from know­ing­ly cre­at­ing, main­tain­ing, or con­tribut­ing to a pub­lic nui­sance; and from design­ing, sell­ing, and mar­ket­ing firearm indus­try prod­ucts that pro­mote con­ver­sion of legal prod­ucts into ille­gal prod­ucts, or which tar­get minors or indi­vid­u­als pro­hib­it­ed from pur­chas­ing or pos­sess­ing firearms.
  • Require firearm indus­try mem­bers to estab­lish, imple­ment, and enforce rea­son­able con­trols to pre­vent sale and dis­tri­b­u­tion to cer­tain indi­vid­u­als, pre­vent loss and theft of firearm indus­try prod­ucts, and ensure com­pli­ance with state and fed­er­al law; and to take rea­son­able pre­cau­tions to pre­vent sale or dis­tri­b­u­tion of firearm indus­try prod­ucts to dis­trib­u­tors and retail­ers that have failed to estab­lish and imple­ment rea­son­able controls.
  • Estab­lish that vio­la­tions con­sti­tute a pub­lic nui­sance and are per se action­able under the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act.
  • Autho­rize the Attor­ney Gen­er­al to inves­ti­gate sus­pect­ed vio­la­tions and bring enforce­ment actions against firearm indus­try members.

With the excep­tion of East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, majori­ties in all regions of Wash­ing­ton State are sup­port­ive of the Firearm Indus­try Respon­si­bil­i­ty & Gun Vio­lence Vic­tims’ Access to Jus­tice Act. Vot­ers east of the Cas­cades are split, with 54% opposed and 42% sup­port­ive. In South­west Wash­ing­ton and the Olympic Penin­su­la, the state’s oth­er pre­dom­i­nant­ly rur­al region, 55% of vot­ers are sup­port­ive and 37% are opposed. In Puget Sound (King Coun­ty, North Puget Sound, South Sound), total sup­port aver­ages 63% across the three regions.

The split is espe­cial­ly pro­nounced in East­ern Wash­ing­ton. With­in the 5th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict — Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers’ dis­trict, which includes Spokane — there was almost an even split, with 47% vot­ers sup­port­ive and 49% opposed.

East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton are, polit­i­cal­ly speak­ing, the most right wing region in the state. For any gun safe­ty pro­pos­al to have the sup­port of over two in five vot­ers liv­ing in that part of Wash­ing­ton is significant.

This one does­n’t have major­i­ty sup­port there in this poll, but it’s pret­ty close to hav­ing major­i­ty sup­port, espe­cial­ly in East­ern Washington.

And statewide, there’s clear­ly a strong major­i­ty for this bill. About half of the elec­torate is strong­ly sup­port­ive. That’s a deep reser­voir of enthusiasm.

In the his­to­ry of our research polling, we’ve always found a major­i­ty sup­port­ive of every gun safe­ty idea that we have test­ed. Extreme risk pro­tec­tion orders, rais­ing the age to buy a firearm, ban­ning high capac­i­ty mag­a­zines, pro­hibit­ing guns from being car­ried at elec­tion sites or local gov­ern­ment meet­ings… these and oth­er gun safe­ty laws have con­sis­tent­ly been pop­u­lar. Now, the the Firearm Indus­try Respon­si­bil­i­ty & Gun Vio­lence Vic­tims’ Access to Jus­tice Act is join­ing them.

We urge the House to act on this leg­is­la­tion with­in the next fifty hours.

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.

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