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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Inslee signs Washington state gun regulations into law. Here’s how the rules will change.

UPDATED: Wed., March 23, 2022

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee hands a pen to his wife Trudi on Wednesday after he signed one of three bills in a package of measures to tighten gun laws in Washington state at the Capitol in Olympia.  (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee hands a pen to his wife Trudi on Wednesday after he signed one of three bills in a package of measures to tighten gun laws in Washington state at the Capitol in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

OLYMPIA – Making, selling or distributing firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition is now illegal in Washington.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed a package of bills to restrict gun usage, including where they can be carried, how to handle firearms without serial numbers and what kinds of magazines can be made and sold.

Inslee was joined by lawmakers, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a number of advocates for gun control measures.

“We are not wiling to accept gun violence as a normal part of life in the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “We will not allow this scourge of gun violence to wash across our state without taking action.”

The Legislature passed a bill this session that bans selling, manufacturing or distributing magazines for rifles, as well as a number of pistols, that can hold more than 10 bullets. Possession of these magazines is not prohibited under the new law. Law enforcement and armed services members are exempt from the rule.

Republicans and gun rights activists pushed against the bill, arguing the restrictions on magazines infringe on their Second Amendment rights.

During the floor debate on the bill, Republicans argued that prohibiting these types of magazines was an issue of safety, as many people have firearms for protection. Spokane Republican Rep. Jenny Graham said people who testified against the bill in committee are “genuinely in fear of their safety.”

Democrats and gun control advocates, on the other hand, say the bill will help prevent mass shootings.

“Today is not a day for political slogans and for us to make points,” bill sponsor Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, said. “Today is the day we will make Washington a safer place for families, for communities, for children.”

Ferguson had requested the magazine restrictions since 2017. After a shooting in Mukilteo in 2016 that left three dead and one injured, Ferguson said he decided to put the “full weight” of his office behind an effort to ban large magazines.

“I was going to propose this bill every year until we passed it,” Ferguson said. “I didn’t think it would be six years.”

Nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted regulations on large capacity magazines, according to Giffords Law Center, a gun control organization started by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived being shot in the head. Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. California’s ban was recently upheld in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but could be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ferguson said there likely will be a lawsuit challenging the measure in Washington.

“These bans are constitutional,” Ferguson said. “We’re confident we’ll be able to successfully defend them.”

Another bill signed by Inslee on Wednesday prohibits carrying guns and other weapons at schools, local government meetings and election-related facilities.

At school board meetings on school district-owned or -leased property, open carry and concealed carry of firearms and other weapons will not be allowed. Violation is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 or both. Those who violate it would have their concealed pistol license revoked for three years.

Concealed carry will be allowed for a valid license holder who is picking up or dropping off a student.

Open carry and concealed carry also will be prohibited at election ballot counting centers. In other election facilities, such as voting centers or county elections offices, open carry is prohibited, but concealed carry with a license will still be allowed.

A violation of these restrictions is punishable as a misdemeanor the first time and punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine and a gross misdemeanor for all others.

At local government meetings, it will be illegal to open carry a firearm or other weapon. Concealed carry still will be allowed for those who have a valid license. Those who violate the bill will have their concealed pistol license revoked for three years.

Exemptions to these restrictions include law enforcement officers and military members.

“No one, no one, should be prevented from accessing their government due to fear of armed intimidation,” Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, said.

Inslee also signed a bill that would restrict the use of untraceable firearms, or those manufactured after July 1, 2019 that are not an antique and cannot be traced by law enforcement using a serial number.

Untraceable firearms, also known as “ghost guns,” often are bought online in parts and assembled at home by the buyer.

“These guns are so dangerous, because we have no way of tracing them,” bill sponsor Rep. Liz Berry, D-Seattle, said.

After June 30, making, assembling, selling or purchasing untraceable firearms is prohibited. By March 10, 2023, knowingly or recklessly possessing these firearms is prohibited.

The bill does allow for hobbyists to continue to make guns at home, if they use parts with serial numbers.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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