OLYMPIA – Washington law will ban “ghost guns” made with 3D printers, remove the rights of a person who is found incompetent to stand trial to have a firearm and tighten a requirement for a concealed pistol license.
Firearms can be removed from the homes of teens who are the subject of an extreme risk protection order because they might hurt themselves or others.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a series of bills Tuesday tightening Washington gun laws along with dozens of others, including a revision to statutes on hate crimes, and requirements for better disclosure of contributions moved between political committees.
The gun control laws would be “a model for the rest of the United States,” said Inslee, who is running for president.
“I’m proud that Washington voters and legislators have done much to promote common-sense gun safety in the last several years,” Inslee said when signing the bill banning firearms made with plastic 3D printers. “We’ve come a long way from 1994, if I may say so, on a personal note.”
In 1994, during his first term in Congress, then-Rep. Inslee voted for a ban on the manufacture and import of military-style semi-automatic rifles, was targeted by the National Rifle Association and lost his re-election campaign to Republican Doc Hastings as part of a GOP wave that captured seven of the state’s nine House seats. That ban expired in 2004 and was not renewed by Congress.
Washington voters put restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic rifles through an initiative last year, requiring the buyer to be at least 21 and requiring the same level of background check needed for a handgun.
Gun-rights advocates asked the Legislature to repeal the initiative, but lawmakers never seriously considered it. Instead, they passed a ban on undetectable and untraceable firearms, like those made from plastic with a 3D printer. A firearm must have a minimum amount of steel that would allow it to register on an X-ray machine, like the kind used for airport security.
Starting July 1, it will be a felony to manufacture, own, buy or sell such a weapon, with an additional felony charge possible for selling one to a person who is ineligible to possess a firearm.
The Legislature also made it easier to remove firearms from people who may be a risk to themselves or others. A person under 18 who is judged by a court to be in danger of committing a violent act could be the subject of an extreme risk protection order, which could require the immediate, temporary removal of firearms belonging to the person named in the order. Anyone else in the home would be required to put their firearms in secure storage and face criminal prosecution if the subject of the protection order gains access to those weapons.
A person who is detained in a mental health facility for a three-day evaluation and treatment for possible risk of harming themselves or others would lose the right to possess a firearm for six months. After that period, the right to possess firearms would be automatically restored if there are no further restrictions required by other laws. A person found not guilty by reason of insanity for a crime that would result in making them ineligible to possess a firearm would have to surrender all firearms.
Protection orders and restraining orders that require the subject to surrender firearms can also require the surrender of a concealed pistol license. Such an order must also be served by a law enforcement officer, and the weapons and license placed in the custody of that officer’s agency. A court can issue a search warrant if an officer believes the person named in the protection order hasn’t surrendered all weapons.
Most of those new laws passed the Legislature with strong Democratic support but Republican opposition. One gun-related bill signed Tuesday, however, passed both chambers unanimously.
It requires a background check for an original concealed pistol license to include the submission of the applicant’s fingerprints for a check by the FBI. The Washington State Patrol had requested the change to comply with federal requirements.
In other changes signed into law, malicious harassment will be redefined as a hate crime if it’s a result of bias against a race, religion, gender identity or other minority, attempting to remove religious clothing from a person or placing a noose on the property of a person who is a member of a racial or ethnic minority.
The maximum punitive damages in a civil action for a hate crime increases from $10,000 to $100,000.
Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, prime sponsor of the bill, called it a big step toward doing the right thing.
“I think it was about time we address (hate crime) for what it is,” he said.
A change to the campaign finance laws will require more information about contributions that will make it harder to hide donors by moving money from one political committee to another. Political ads will have to list the top five contributors, and if any of those are from political action committees, list the top three noncommittee donors to those PACs.
All bills passed by the Legislature at the end of its 2019 regular session must be signed or vetoed by May 21, or they automatically become law.
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