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Northwest lawmakers, courts weigh new rules on gun sales

Courtesy Augustas Didigalvis/Wikimedia
Current Washington law already includes background checks and waiting periods for gun sales, but lawmakers are considering legislation to apply those rules to all new gun sales and transfers.

Washington lawmakers are weighing bills to place new restrictions on the sale and transfer of guns as new gun laws in Oregon make their way through the courts.

In Washington,Senate Bill 5232would require gun buyers to pass a background check and wait 10 days before they access a newly purchased firearm. It would also require proof that they've gone through a state-certified safety training within the past five years.

A state Senate committee hearing Thursday stirred familiar arguments about constitutional rights and public safety. Southern Washington gun shop owner Mathew Joy raised concerns that the bill could strain resources in rural counties.

"Nowhere in the bill does it create any funding or training or extra people or resources for the local sheriff's department," Joy said.

Supporters of Washington's Senate bill say a 10-day waiting period for all new firearm sales could disrupt someone's plans to impulsively purchase a gun for a mass shooting or suicide, and that requiring more training could help prevent misfires or fatal accidents involving a firearm.

Donnitta Sinclair, whose son was killed in Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHOP, in 2020, told the committee they have a vital role in ending gun violence.

"We can't do the work without getting help and support from you. Each and every one of you – our kids' life is in you guys' hands," Sinclair said.

Washington law already includes a 10-day waiting period, a background check and training requirements for the purchase of semiautomatic rifles. Current law also requires buyers of other guns to wait for 10 days or until they pass a background check to access a new firearm – whichever comes first.

Some people who testified questioned whether it would hold up in court after last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a New York State gun law.

Meanwhile, a new law is making its way through the courts in Oregon. A slim majority of Oregon voters approved new gun restrictions last fall, requiring gun buyers to have a permit and training. But a court order has blocked that law from taking effect after it was immediately challenged in court following its passage.

Some Washington lawmakers have advanced a bill similar to Oregon's new gun rules that also would require gun buy permits, House Bill 1143, which was passed on an initial vote in January.