Washington State Second Amendment activists are cheering Thursday’s defeat of a House gun control bill that would have required licensing of so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity magazines,” but they face another hurdle with a substitute “safe storage” measure.
House Bill 1387 was opposed by major gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. They energized grassroots activists who flooded Olympia with telephone calls and emails. Hundreds of gun owners turned out for a public hearing during which representatives from the NRA, Washington Arms Collectors and other groups testified against the measure.
It represents a defeat for the gun prohibition lobby, which pushed the measure hard, and for anti-gun state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who had proposed an outright ban on “assault weapons” last year, and the regulatory scheme as a “fall back” measure.
According to an email from Joe Waldron with the Gun Owners Action League of Washington, “HB 1387 died in committee. The Senate counterpart, SB 5444, never got a hearing. Both are technically dead for the session.”
However, Waldron added a cautionary note to the thousands of subscribers to his weekly “GOAL Post” email alerts.
“Recognize that under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ a bill that failed to make a cut-off date MAY be revived,” Waldron said. “This is very rare. But let an incident occur such as what happened in Orlando last year occur, all bets are off.”
Waldron noted, along with NRA, that HB 1387 did not even come up for a vote, indicating that “the votes weren’t there” to pass it out of committee.
According to NRA, lawmakers voting against HB 1122 – the other bill – were Reps. Jay Rodne, Paul Graves, Matt Shea, Dick Muri, Larry Haler and Brad Klippert. But that bill, in substitute form, will face a vote on the House floor. No date for that vote has been announced, but NRA, CCRKBA and other groups are urging gun owners to continue contacting Olympia to oppose the measure.
Under HB 1122, gun owners could face criminal charges if they do not “properly” store a firearm and it falls into unauthorized hands. NRA calls the legislation “a solution in search of a problem.”
Members of the Gun Rights Coalition, a grassroots group based in Washington, worked hard on social media to activate the opposition.
As of Friday morning, neither of the state’s Seattle-based gun prohibition lobbying groups – Washington Ceasefire or the Alliance for Gun Responsibility – had commented on the defeat of their gun control bill. There is some expectation among gun rights groups that their next step will be to launch an initiative campaign to ban or tightly regulate semi-auto firearms by public vote.