Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Washington State Democrats Propose New Firearms Purchase Permit Legislation with Mandatory Training and Live-Fire Component

In Washington State, a group of over 20 Democrat legislators has introduced a bill that would establish a permit-to-purchase requirement for anyone seeking to buy a firearm. This legislation, known as House Bill 1902, also mandates training that includes demonstrating live-fire competency.

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This bill, extending to 72 pages, has attracted exclusively liberal Democrat sponsors, with no Republicans signing on. It aims to create a "state firearms background check system account" under the state treasurer's control. Second Amendment advocates have criticized the bill as an overt move toward stricter gun control.

Should the bill become law, it will likely face legal challenges as an infringement on both the Second Amendment and the state's right-to-bear-arms provision (Article 1, Section 24). Democrat Rep. Liz Berry of Seattle, supporting the bill, compared the permit requirement to licensure for driving or fishing, saying, "It’s just common sense to require a license for purchasing a firearm... Permit to purchase helps to ensure that guns are only purchased by responsible individuals."

Opponents counter this argument by highlighting the distinction between constitutionally protected rights and state-granted privileges. They also point out the futility of such measures in curbing criminal activity, as criminals typically do not acquire firearms through legal channels.

The bill's sponsors include Representatives Emily Alvarado, Liz Berry, Lisa Callan, and others. In response to similar legislative moves, Dan Mitchell, owner of Sporting Systems in Vancouver and a vocal gun rights advocate, has offered a free online "gun safety course" to comply with the current requirements set to take effect in January 2024. This course covers various topics including conflict avoidance and firearm safety basics.

Furthermore, the bill assigns the Washington State Patrol the task of certifying firearms safety training programs and mandates recertification every five years.

In parallel, these Democrat lawmakers are also pushing for HB 1903, a bill requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours, with a failure to report resulting in a fine of up to $1,000.

These legislative efforts in Washington mirror actions in other Democrat-controlled states, such as Oregon, where recent gun control measures have faced constitutional challenges. Washington's legislative session is set to begin in January, and many are questioning the constitutional viability of these proposed laws, especially considering the state's historically reasonable approach to gun legislation and its high number of resident concealed pistol licenses.

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