AG Ferguson defeats first attempt to block Washington’s ban on the sale of assault weapons

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Photo courtesy KCSO
SEATTLE — A federal judge today agreed with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and rejected an attempt to block Washington’s new law banning the sale of assault weapons.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan rejected a request in Hartford et al v. Ferguson et al to grant a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of House Bill 1240

Judge Bryan is an appointee of President Ronald Reagan. Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee jointly requested the bill.

Ferguson first proposed a ban on the sale of assault weapons in 2017 in the wake of the 2016 mass shooting at a Mukilteo house party. The shooter used a military-style assault rifle and a high-capacity magazine. (See previous story)

This was the second time Inslee joined Ferguson to call for a ban on the sale of assault weapons.

The new law went into effect immediately after Inslee signed it on April 25. Legal challenges began the same day.

“We remain undefeated against the gun lobby in court,” Ferguson said. “This common-sense gun reform will save lives by restricting access to the preferred weapon of mass shooters.”

The new law prohibits the sale, manufacture, and import of assault weapons in Washington state while allowing reasonable exemptions for manufacture and sale to law enforcement and the military. The law does not prohibit the possession of assault weapons.

Washington is the tenth state to adopt similar legislation banning these weapons. Multiple federal courts upheld these public safety laws as constitutional.

Two other challenges to HB 1240 are pending, one in state court and one in federal court.

The Attorney General’s Office is undefeated in defending state law from attacks by the gun lobby:
  • Northwest School of Safety v. Ferguson: Plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation challenge to Initiative 594, which required background checks on all gun sales.
  • Mitchell v. Atkins: Plaintiffs including the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation challenge to Initiative 1639, which restricted the sale of assault weapons to individuals over the age of 21, and imposed background check requirements.
  • Slone v. Washington: Plaintiffs including Gun Owners of America challenge to I-1639.
  • Silent Majority Foundation, et al. v. Jay Inslee, et al: Plaintiffs including the Silent Majority Foundation challenge to House Bill 1705, banning ghost guns.
The Attorney General’s Office has also successfully brought cases to enforce firearms safety laws:
  • State of Washington, et al., v. U.S. Department of State et, al: Defendants including Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation, sought to distribute 3D-printable gun files.
  • State of Washington v. Federal Way Discount Guns: Defendants represented initially by the Silent Majority Foundation sold high-capacity magazines in violation of Washington law.


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