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SAF Sues Washington State Over Black Rifle Ban by S.H. BLANNELBERRY

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Washington, challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted House Bill 1240, which bans the manufacture, sale, import, and distribution of many semi-automatic firearms.

SAF claims the new law — which took effect immediately — infringes on Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights and is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions from the court.

The lawsuit, named Hartford v. Ferguson, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

SAF is joined by the Firearms Policy Coalition, Hazel Dell retailer Sporting Systems, and three private citizens, Brett Bass, Douglas Mitchell, and Lawrence Hartford. The plaintiffs are represented by Seattle attorney Joel Ard.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and several county sheriffs and prosecutors are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb criticized the state for putting politics above constitutional rights.

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“The State has enacted a flat prohibition on the manufacture, sale, import and distribution of many types of firearms, inaccurately labeled as ‘assault weapons,’ which are owned by millions of ordinary citizens across the country,” said Gottlieb in a press release obtained by GunsAmerica.

“In the process, the state has criminalized a common and important means of self-defense, the modern semiautomatic rifle,” he continued. “The state has put politics ahead of constitutional rights, and is penalizing law-abiding citizens while this legislation does nothing to arrest and prosecute criminals who misuse firearms in defiance of all existing gun control laws. It is absurd.”

HB 1240 has exemptions for law enforcement and members of the military. Existing owners of black rifles are also grandfathered in — at least for now.

HB 1240 is part of a broader gun reform package signed into law that includes a 10-day waiting period, mandatory firearms training for prospective gun buyers, and a new legal pathway for the attorney general and family members of shooting victims to sue gun makers who market their products to prohibited persons.

These additional provisions take effect this summer.

Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds), who sponsored House Bill 1240, stated, “Gun violence rips loved ones from their families, devastates our communities, and traumatizes our children again and again.”

“Students everywhere have been speaking up, demanding we do something to protect them,” he continued. “We’ve stepped up to answer them. With the Governor’s signature today, we’re sending a clear message to our kids: we hear you and we are acting to keep you safe.”

Gottlieb also highlighted two ongoing legal actions challenging Washington gun laws, one addressing the magazine ban and another contesting the ban on sales of semi-automatic rifles to young adults.

SEE ALSO: Washington State Democrats Force Partisan ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban Through Senate

SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut called out the authors and supporters of the legislation for their “hysteria” and “false characterization” of the banned firearms as “weapons of war.”

“As we note in our complaint, the firearms that Washington bans as ‘assault weapons’ are, in all respects, ordinary semiautomatic rifles. To the extent they are different from other semiautomatic rifles, their distinguishing features make them safer and easier to use,” observed Kraut.

“But even if they are considered as a separate group of ‘assault weapons,’ they cannot be banned because they are not dangerous and unusual,” he concluded.

Rep. Liz Berry (D-Seattle), who sponsored House Bill 1143, the waiting period measure, commented, “Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children in our country. As a mom of two little ones and as a person who has lost someone who I love to gun violence, this is devastating to me. It’s simple: these bills will save lives.”

Rep. Berry is wrong. Guns ARE NOT the leading cause of death for children in the U.S., as GunsAmerica recently pointed out. There’s also no hard evidence that waiting periods or black rifle bans or frivolous lawsuits against gun makers will “save lives.”

Let us all hope that SAF prevails in court.

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