State’s ban on assault weapons will remain in place for now, Thurston County judge rules

A Thurston County judge ruled Friday that a ban on the sale of assault weapons in Washington state should remain in place as a lawsuit challenging the ban works its way through the court system.

Petitioners in Guardian Arms v. Inslee requested a preliminary injunction to block the implementation of HB 1240, the assault weapon ban passed during this year’s legislative session. Judge Allyson Zipp denied the request.

The case was initially filed in Grant County, but moved to Thurston County at the request of the state Attorney General’s Office.

The latest denial from Judge Zipp comes just three months after she denied a temporary restraining order to block the sale of assault weapons in the same lawsuit.

That same month, a federal judge in Seattle denied a request for a preliminary injunction in a U.S. District Court case aimed at blocking the new law.

Another case is pending in federal district court in Eastern Washington, the Attorney General’s Office noted in a press release Friday. Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is representing the state in the lawsuit.

“My legal team remains undefeated against the gun lobby in court,” Ferguson said in the press statement. “This common-sense gun reform will save lives by restricting access to the preferred weapon of mass shooters.”

Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee requested the legislation to ban assault weapons during the 2023 legislative session. The law immediately went into effect when Inslee signed the bill on April 25, making Washington the 10th state to have bans on assault weapons in place. Guardian Arms v Inslee was filed that same day.

HB 1240 prohibits the “manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any assault weapon” in Washington state. Some exceptions for licensed firearm manufacturers and dealers are baked into the legislation, allowing law enforcement agencies to continue to purchase from firearms dealers and manufacturers, for instance.

Exceptions are included for those who inherit an assault weapon, and the law does not regulate possession for Washingtonians who owned assault weapons before the bill was signed.

Violations of the law are a gross misdemeanor, which can include jail time for up to 364 days and/or a fine of no more than $5,000.