Will Washington's new gun restrictions hold up in court?
As of the new fiscal year, there are two new bans on untraceable guns. Earlier this month, Washington state expanded locations where weapons are prohibited or restricted.
Olympia correspondent, Austin Jenkins spoke to KUOW's Angela King about the details of these new laws.
Read the full report here.
Cracking down on "ghost guns"
Ghost guns are untraceable as they don't have serial numbers. Jenkins said lawmakers are responding to a "proliferation" of untraceable guns. One can buy a ghost gun online. People can even build them at home by downloading a design plan from the web and using a 3D printer.
Jenkins said the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is facing an "explosion" of these types of guns in recent years. In 2016, law enforcement collected 17,000 untraceable guns. In 2021, the number shot up to 19,000. Nationally, about 700 of these guns were involved in homicides or attempted homicides.
Jenkins said Washington law enforcement is anecdotally seeing more untraceable guns. He noted that these homemade ghost guns tend to appeal to hobbyists and firearm collectors. But they are also attractive to criminals, because they can't be traced.
Banning the sale of gun magazines with more then 10 rounds
According to Jenkins, advocates of the ban say, "It's designed to reduce the risk of mass shootings." Gun-rights advocates already filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the ban.
Expanding restricted and no-weapon zones
Under the new rules, one cannot openly carry firearms in local government buildings, like city hall, where public meetings are held. According to Jenkins, guns are now banned in school-board meetings that take place on school district owned or leased property. This also applies to concealed weapons.
Bans were also expanded to include election facilities, ballot-counting centers, and voter-registration offices. Jenkins said the ban exempts concealed pistol permit holders. However, there are no exceptions at counting centers while ballots are actively being counted.
Will the Supreme Court's recent ruling regarding concealed-carry weapons impact Washington state's gun laws?
According to Jenkins, the answer is "probably not." That's because Washington allows concealed and often openly carrying weapons. But, the ruling shows, the conservative-leaning court is willing to overturn state-level laws. It opens up a possibility for Washington's laws to be challenged and even ruled unconstitutional.
"Keep in mind that Washington state Constitution actually has a stronger gun-rights clause than the U.S. Constitution," Jenkins said. According to the Washington Constitution, Article 1, Section 24: "the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired...."
Will a ruling that California's ban of the sale of semi-automatic weapons to people under 21 is unconstitutional impact Washington state?
Right now, there is no impact, according to Jenkins. But, there is a similar restriction in Washington state that was also challenged. Advocates of the age limitations told Jenkins, they are "fairly confident" the ban will prevail. The constitutionality of Washington's ban will ultimately be decided in the courts.