On July 1, 2019, several new laws went into effect which significantly affect your rights as a firearms owner. The following is a short summary of the legislative changes that recently went into effect. There are several legal challenges underway to many of these new laws. Washington Gun Law will keep you apprised of those legal challenges as they develop.
New Firearms Legislation, Effective July 1, 2019
Gun violence research funding
- The State Legislature has agreed to fund a $1 million research study, into a gun violence prevention research program at the University of Washington. This program will support investigations of firearm death and injury risk factors, evaluate the effectiveness of state firearm laws and policies, assess the consequences of firearm violence, and develop strategies to reduce the toll of firearm violence.
Domestic Violence Victims and Law Enforcement (HB 1225)
- This new law requires law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms if they have probable cause to believe a firearms was used or threatened to be used during a domestic violence call. Officers must also temporarily remove firearms in plain sight and request consent to remove any firearms if the alleged abuser has access to until a court hearing is held.
Proper Gun Purchase Background Checks (HB 1465)
- Due to a lack of funding and an increased demand caused by several state laws, the FBI is discontinuing courtesy National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks for concealed pistol license (CPL) holders in Washington state. Obviously, without a background check system, there is a chance that a handgun could fall into the hands of a person that is not legally authorized to possess such a firearm. This bill mandates the state to provide necessary background checks for this purpose.
Outlawing "Ghost Guns" (HB 1739)
- This bill makes it illegal to manufacture, buy, sell, or possess an undetectable firearm in most circumstances. Guns that do not have serial numbers, or cannot be detected by metal detectors are now illegal to possess.
Changing Procedure for Protective Orders (HB 1786)
- This law allows law enforcement to confiscate firearms form individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others. The confiscation orders can be based on allegations alone. The new law also expands the situations, including protection orders, anti-harassment orders and other civil and criminal orders that will now require forfeiture of firearms.
Single point of Contact Background Check System (HB 1949)
- Since the FBI is discontinuing the courtesy National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks in our state, there is an urgent need for a single point of contact firearm background check system. This bill conducts a feasibility study to examine and make recommendations about how such a system would be established.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders (SB 5027)
- This bill allows petitions for Extreme Risk Protection Orders to be applied to people under the age of 18 which, if approved, would prohibit the minor from accessing, controlling, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm. The minor's parent or guardian would be notified of their legal obligation to safely secure any firearms.
Firearms Possession and Involuntary Commitments. (SB 5181)
- Under Washington law, a person can be involuntarily committed if they are deemed a threat to themselves or other for 72 hours. This commitment can occur against their will. This bill imposes a six-month suspension on a person's right to possess a firearm when the person is detained under the Involuntary Treatment Act.
Incompetent to Stand Trial Means Not Eligible to Posses a Firearm (SB 5205)
- A person who is incompetent to stand trial and has a history of violence is not competent to have a firearm under this bill. In instances where a person has been deemed incompetent to stand trial, they are now prohibited from possessing a firearm unless the court restores their firearm rights.
- SB 5508 clarifies that the background check for a concealed pistol license must include a national check from the FBI through the submission of fingerprints. HB 1589 modifies the requirements for the correctional personnel and community correction officer exemption from restrictions on carrying concealed pistols to reflect that the Department of Corrections already conducts annual background checks for its employees as standard procedure.