Gov. Inslee expected to sign legislation banning semi-automatic weapons

A bill that will ban the sale, manufacture and import of assault weapons in Washington is one signature away from becoming law, sparking an uptick in gun sales, according to local gun stores.

Wade Gaughran, owner of Wade’s Eastside Guns in Bellevue, told FOX 13 that he’s setting sales records, estimating that his sales were up 700% on Wednesday.

While Gaughran is opposed to the bill, and expects legal challenges, he said his shop will follow the law. He says he'll continue to sell right up until the moment it’s no longer allowed.

"Up until that point, we just step on the gas," said Gaughran. "We’re going to sell, sell, sell—all hands on deck."

Wade’s Eastside Guns is among the stores that have extended hours, as those opposed to the ban have rushed to stock up on guns. It's a typical reaction to gun laws throughout the years.

The uptick comes after House Bill 1240 made it through the State Legislature last week. The bill, backed by both Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney Bob Ferguson, has been part of a years-long push for stricter gun control laws.

Inslee has not indicated when he’ll sign the bill, though it will take effect immediately. A member of his staff told FOX 13 that the bill has not been delivered to the administration, though it will likely be signed alongside other gun legislation that’s passed during the latest legislative session.

In addition to HB 1240, two other major pieces of legislation are destined for Inslee’s desk and eventual signature. One bill includes a 10-day waiting period for gun purchase; a second bill would hold gun manufacturers accountable for negligent sales.

HB 1240, however, is the biggest focus for members of both sides of the aisle. Its passage will make Washington the tenth state to pass a similar ban, laws which have withstood legal tests.

According to State Rep. Strom Peterson, the work to pass HB 1240 grew out of a mass shooting in his district. In 2016, a teen shot and killed three people.

"He was upset broken up with his girlfriend, so he went to a sporting good store, purchased a rifle—a Bushmaster AR-15—and shot up a house party, killing three," explained Peterson. "We want to try to minimize the ability to purchase these weapons of war to eliminate these mass shootings."

Peterson is quick to point out the law does not mean anyone is taking a weapon away from an owner. The stated goal, he said, is to reduce the number of assault weapons on the streets.

Assault weapons, in this context, are high-powered guns or semi-automatic rifles. More than 50 gun models like AR-15s, AK-47s and M-16s are included in the ban.

The signature is a victory gun control advocates have long sought. A number of the people who spoke to legislators when the bill was first introduced in the current legislative session noted that they’d been in Olympia to speak on the issue before.

A number of advocates were relatives of victims of mass shootings. Robert Schentrup, the brother of Carmen Schentrup—a victim in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting was among those at the bill’s introduction.

"Only one of my sisters made it back home alive," Schentrup told legislators.

Anne-Marie Parsons, the mother of a victim from the Las Vegas mass shooting during a country music festival, was also present.

"Our family has to live forever with the knowledge that our daughter was killed, shot in the back while running for her life," said Parsons.

In both of those instances, an assault-style weapon was purchased legally and used to kill multiple people.

According to a DOJ study released by the National Institute of Justice in 2022, 77% of people who perpetrate a mass shooting use legally purchased weapons. Assault rifles were used in just over 1 in 4 of the instances tracked.

Still, advocates say personal protection is paramount. Gaughran told FOX 13 that he believes Washington will be less safe as a result of the legislation.

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"We’re completely against the law," said Gaughran. "There’s no piece of it that I think they should have passed. I don’t think it’s going to be a lawsuit. I think it’ll be a cascade of lawsuits, different people attacking this law from different angles."