Pro-gun organizations fail in challenge to WA assault weapons ban

Gun Rights

In what’s seen as a blow to gun rights activists, a U.S. District Court judge said Washington state’s new assault weapons ban will move forward.

A lawsuit challenged House Bill 1240, but Court Judge Robert Bryan ruled in favor of Attorney General Bob Ferguson as the case failed to show “enough possible irreparable harm.”

“Considering the exceptional dangerousness of these weapons, the public interest in their regulation by the State outweighs the Plaintiffs’ desire to purchase more assault weapons,” Bryan said during his ruling. “In light of recent mass deaths caused by assailants using assault weapons, it is appropriate for governmental bodies to find ways to protect the public from dangerous weapons, within the limits of the Second Amendment.”

This case was the fifth that Ferguson faced regarding gun sales. Previous plaintiffs include the Second Amendment Foundation, the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, and the Silent Majority Foundation, according to NBC.

“So it looks like a judge has swatted away the first challenge against the assault weapons ban in the state of Washington,” KIRO Newsradio host John Curley said on The John and Shari Show.

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“Of course, that makes sense that that would be the claim from Washington — that they prevailed,” Adam Kraut, the executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation, responded. “However, it was a motion for a preliminary injunction. So it’s only preliminary relief. That doesn’t mean that they actually won the case. On top of that, there are options available to us that we’re currently examining whether or not we want to appeal that decision up to the Ninth Circuit. And the Ninth Circuit, if we did that, could reverse it and change things. So it’s certainly not done. This is set to continue on.”

According to court documents, Bryan found that Washington state’s ban does fit in with the nation’s long history of regulating dangerous weapons. The judge cited previous instances of statewide bans, including colonial-era “trap guns,” Prohibition-era Thompson machine guns, and even bans on long-bladed Bowie knives.

“As we pointed out in our briefing, these types of weapons, particularly the AR-15, are successively common throughout the U.S.,” Kraut said. “And it’s not a question as to commonality within a specific jurisdiction. It’s a question of the commonality throughout the U.S., And the vast majority of this country does not regulate these firearms in any manner. They are in common use for lawful purposes all over the country, from self-defense to hunting to competitive shooting and recreational shooting, and many other things as well.”

The Washington law prohibits the sale and manufacture of more than 50 types of guns, including AR-15 and AK-47 style rifles.

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Coinciding with the assault weapon ban, Seattle singularly is on pace for some of the lowest crime rates the city has recorded since the pandemic. 2023 is on pace for just 37 homicides in Seattle, compared to 52 last year, while aggravated assaults are on pace for slightly more than 2,100 this year — well below the 3,510 recorded in 2022.

But the U.S. overall is setting a record pace for mass killings this year, according to a database maintained by the Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University. All of this year’s mass killings have involved firearms, according to the Associated Press.

Listen to John Curley and Shari Elliker weekday afternoons from 3 – 7 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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