April 28, 2023 – This week, Washington became the tenth state to pass legislation broadly restricting the sale, manufacture, and transfer of “assault weapons.” Washington now joins California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia, as jurisdictions with “assault weapons” bans. This follows Washington’s recently enacted law attempting to expose the firearms industry to frivolous lawsuits by circumventing a federal immunity law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The Governor of Washington signed into law House Bill 1240 (“HB 1240”), which prohibits the “manufacture, importation, distribution, selling, and offering for sale of assault weapons” and identifies specific manufacturers, models, and styles of firearms that are banned. Prohibited “assault weapons” under HB 1240 include semiautomatic rifles with an overall length less than 30 inches, conversion kits and parts “from which an assault weapon can be assembled”, centerfire rifles with detachable magazines that also are equipped with certain cosmetic features, a semiautomatic rifle including a fixed magazine with a capacity to accept more than ten rounds, semiautomatic pistols with a detachable magazine and equipped with certain other features, including a threaded barrel, and semiautomatic shotguns with certain features, including a folding stock, thumbhole stock or fixed magazine in excess of seven rounds.

HB 1240 includes some exceptions for firearms intended for military or law enforcement uses, as well as firearms that are lawfully inherited. HB 1240 does allow firearm retailers to sell inventory already in stock prior to January 1, 2023, but only to out-of-state purchasers for ninety days after HB 1240 goes into effect.

HB 1240 is already being challenged by the Firearms Policy Coalition (“FPC”), the Second Amendment Foundation (“SAF”), a federally licensed firearm dealer in Washington, and three Washington citizens, who collectively filed a complaint against the Washington Attorney General and other officials. The lawsuit challenges HB 1240 as a violation of the Second Amendment, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The lawsuit requests a permanent injunction preventing Washington state officials from enforcing HB 1240.

In a win for the continued possession of modern sporting rifles that are commonly possessed by the public, a bill that would have banned the sale or transfer of “assault weapons” in Colorado narrowly failed in a Democratic-majority state House committee on Thursday.

House Bill 1230 (“HB 1230”) was rejected by a vote of 7-6 in the House Judiciary Committee. HB 1230 defined a banned “assault weapon” as a semiautomatic rifle that uses detachable magazines and has one of a number of features, including a pistol grip, folding stock, barrel shroud or threaded barrel, among others. HB 1230 would have banned the sale of certain .50 caliber rifles, semiautomatic pistols, shotguns with revolving cylinders, and semiautomatic shotguns, with various conditions for each type of firearm. In a last-ditch effort to save the bill from defeat, two amendments to HB 1230 that would have limited the ban to only the sale of rapid-fire trigger activators and bump stocks, were also rejected.

Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor new and developing firearms legislation and regulation around the country.  If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation or regulations, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.