Thursday, March 7, 2024

Washington Legislature Passes Bill Imposing Stringent Requirements on Gun Dealers


(Dan Brekke, Inlander)

Democrats holding the majority in the Washington Legislature have successfully pushed through House Bill 2118, a piece of legislation that has been criticized for imposing costly and burdensome requirements on licensed firearms dealers within the state. This has sparked considerable debate among members of the Washington 2024 Legislative Action Group on social media platforms like Facebook.

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The bill, which faced opposition from every House Republican and Democrat Representative Mike Chapman, but support from the remaining Democrats, passed the House with a vote of 56–39 and the Senate with a 28–21 tally. It is now awaiting signature from Governor Jay Inslee, a known advocate for gun control measures.

Critics, including an editorial from the Seattle Times, have argued that the bill overreaches by imposing stringent operational requirements on gun dealers under the guise of enhancing public safety. The bill mandates comprehensive security upgrades for firearm dealers, including the installation of security systems, digital video surveillance, and specific storage protocols for firearms outside business hours.

“This bill would impose costs on small firearms sellers that could force them out of business and open even wider the black market for gun sales,” the newspaper said.

Authored by a group of Democratic legislators frequently involved in proposing gun control laws, the bill specifically targets the operational aspects of firearms dealerships, demanding extensive security measures. It offers exemptions for dealers with a monthly sales volume of $1,000 or less but requires compliance within a year if that threshold is exceeded.

Comments from opponents on social media suggest a strong belief that the legislation aims to drive small firearms dealers out of business, with one stating the potential for every gun store in the state to be affected barring significant amendments. Calls for organized protests against the lawmakers responsible have also been voiced.

Should Governor Inslee sign the bill, which seems probable, its provisions will not be implemented until July 1, 2025, potentially allowing time for legal challenges from the firearms retail sector.

Criticism from the Seattle Times and other commentators focuses on the undue financial burden the bill places on small business owners, suggesting it could inadvertently fuel a black market for firearms by eliminating legitimate sales avenues. The united stance of larger firearms dealers in opposition to the bill highlights a collective effort within the firearms community to protect the rights and operational viability of smaller retailers.

This legislation marks yet another contentious move in what has been characterized as a broader campaign against gun rights in the current legislative session, with measures extending beyond licensing and taxation to include efforts aimed at shutting down gun shops through the imposition of prohibitive costs.

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