OLYMPIA — A Thurston County Superior Court judge rejected another attempt to block Washington’s new law banning the sale of assault weapons. This is the third time in less than three months a judge has ruled that the ban should remain in place while legal challenges continue.
On September 1, 2023, Judge Allyson Zipp rejected a request in Guardian Arms v. Inslee for a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of House Bill 1240. Judge Zipp rejected a similar motion for a temporary restraining order that would have blocked the law in the same case on June 23.
On June 6, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan also rejected a request to block the law in a separate case, Hartford, et al. v. Ferguson, et al.
AG Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee jointly requested HB 1240 during the 2023 legislative session.
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. The 2023 legislative session 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.
“My legal team remains 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.”
Judge Zipp delivered an oral ruling denying the preliminary injunction today. A written order will be filed at a later date.
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 10th state to adopt legislation restricting assault weapons. Multiple federal courts have upheld these public safety laws as constitutional.
Guardian Arms was originally filed in Grant County, but Ferguson successfully had the case transferred to Thurston County. In addition to Guardian Arms and Hartford, there is one other challenge to HB 1240 pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Washington, Banta v. Ferguson.
The Attorney General’s Office has defended 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.
- Hartford, et al. v. Ferguson, et al.: Plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition challenge to House Bill 1240, which bans the sale of assault weapons in Washington.
- Guardian Arms v. Inslee: Plaintiffs including the Silent Majority Foundation challenge to House Bill 1240, which bans the sale of assault weapons in Washington.
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.