House concurs on questionable ‘assault weapons’ ban, Rep. Jim Walsh issues statement

The state House recently concurred with an amended version of House Bill 1240 that bans the sale, manufacture, and import of so-called assault weapons in Washington state.

19th District State Rep. Jim WalshR-Aberdeen, issued the following statement about passage of the bill:

“Today, HB 1240 finally passed through the state Legislature. This unconstitutional mess of a bill, requested by both the governor and the current state attorney general, is a so-called “assault weapon” ban. The governor may sign it into law—but it won’t last very long. It’s constitutional and structural defects are just too many.

“To start, the bill’s definition of ‘assault weapon’ is so poorly-conceived as to be meaningless. Part a non-exhaustive list of makes and models, part a poorly-written conceptual description, it falls short of any clear or useful definition. It’s not limited to semi-automatic rifles but also includes pistols and shotguns. To anyone who knows guns, it’s nonsense.

“In the lengthy back-and-forth between the state House and Senate over this bill, various amendments were proposed, accepted, and then removed. One of those amendments exempted active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces from the restrictions when they move to Washington on official orders. In other words, they could keep banned makes or models that they lawfully own in other states. That common-sense exemption was removed late in the process. A slap in the face to the military people defending our country.

“Finally, the passage of this measure will likely end up a hollow, virtue-signaling gesture. The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen holds clearly that state laws which infringe or impair foundational firearms rights are unconstitutional. And must be overturned. As part of the Bruen decision, the Supreme Court specifically instructed lower federal courts to review and reverse any rulings that support state policies like HB 1240.

“Most importantly, HB 1240 violates both the letter and spirit of the Washington State Constitution’s Article 1, Section 24, which states: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired….”

House Bill 1240 now heads to the governor’s desk for signature. The bill contains an emergency clause and will take effect immediately upon signature.

The 2023 session is scheduled to adjourn on Sunday, April 23.


Washington State House Republican Communications