Judge rejects attempt to block new gun restrictions in Washington state

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday denied a motion to block a new Washington state law Ban on sale of certain semi-automatic riflesone of three measures recently signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to reduce gun violence.

The law, which went into effect immediately when Inslee signed it in April, bans the sale, distribution, manufacture and import of more than 50 types of weapons, including AR and AK rifles. The measure does not exclude the possession of such weapons by people who already own them.

Two gun rights advocacy groups — the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation and the Sacramento, California-based Firearms Policy Coalition — as well as individual gun owners and a dealer quickly dropped legal action. They sought a court order blocking the law pending a court hearing on the merits of their claim that it violated their constitutional right to bear arms.

“Given the exceptional dangerousness of these weapons, the public interest in having the state regulate them outweighs plaintiffs’ desire to purchase more assault weapons,” US District Judge Robert Bryan said in Tacoma. “Given the recent mass deaths caused by assault weapons, it is appropriate for government agencies to find ways, within the limits of the Second Amendment, to protect the public from dangerous weapons.”

A US Supreme Court decision Gun rights were expanded last June, dividing judges and sowing confusion over which restrictions can remain on the books. It made it clearer that gun laws must be consistent with the “historic tradition of firearms regulation.”

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Bryan noted that the state ban fits into the country’s long history of regulating dangerous weapons, including colonial-era bans on “catch weapons” that could be fired without the owner present. Other historical targets of regulation included long-bladed bowie knives and the Thompson submachine gun, or Tommy gun, popular with gangsters in the years after World War I.

Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both Democrats, are urging the Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass this session banning many semi-automatic weapons after years of failed attempts, making Washington the tenth state to enact such legislation.

“This sane gun reform will save lives by restricting access to the weapon of choice of mass shooters,” Ferguson said in a news release Tuesday.

The US is going under a record speed Mass killings have been numerous this year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University.

“We are disappointed by the court’s decision but remain undeterred in our fight for and defense of the people’s natural right to self-defense,” said Cody J. Wisniewski, an attorney with the Firearms Policy Coalition, in an emailed statement .

The other two laws Inslee signed into law imposed a 10-day waiting period on firearm purchases and, in certain cases, opened the way for lawsuits against gun manufacturers or sellers.

A federal trial is in progress Oregon on a challenge to a voter-approved measure there that requires residents to undergo safety training and a background check in order to obtain a gun purchase permit.

voters barely passed it last November. The legislation also prohibits the sale, transfer or import of gun magazines containing more than ten rounds unless they are owned by a member of law enforcement or the military or were already in their possession prior to the enactment of the measure.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Brian Ashcraft

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