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Washington State AG Bob Ferguson Declares War, Waging Lawfare Against the Gun Industry

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Following the passage of a range of new gun control laws in Washington State, Attorney General Bob Ferguson is using powers included in the new laws to wage a wide-ranging campaign of harassment, threats, and intimidation. The targets so far include gun rights organizations and gun businesses in Washington as well as distributors doing business with Washington State retailers.

Is the State of Washington, now at war with the lawful firearms industry?
As crime in the State of Washington continues to spiral out of control, and the state legislature fails to take effective action towards public safety, new revelations about the state’s extreme actions against the lawful firearms industry are coming to light.
 
The State is using the auspices of their Consumer Protection Act, contained within 2022’s Large Capacity Magazine Ban (SB5078) to cast a breathtakingly wide net over the lawful firearms distribution industry.
 
Most recently, the state publicly pursued numerous retailers for violating the magazine ban. The consumer protection dragnet targeted, Federal Way Discount Guns and has subsequently assessed a $19.5 million fine for violations. The state is concurrently defending the b an in two federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the magazine ban (Brumback v. Ferguson and Sullivan v. Ferguson), but the CPA investigation continues to move full steam ahead.
 
Now we are learning that the Attorney General’s office is widening the scope of their investigation, not based on a documented, willful violation by a retailer, but rather scooping up all records and communications from wholesalers nationwide.
 
The latest target, Davidson’s, Inc, is an Arizona-based wholesaler that supplies retailers nationwide. The state, through its Consumer Investigative Demand (CID), has asked Davidson’s to supply all invoices, transfers, and communications of all matters with Washington-based firearms retailers going back to January 1, 2022. That’s is six months before the ban took effect and three months before the ban was even passed as law.

Davidson’s has field a lawsuit in Thurston County District court asking for injunctive relief, based on the “over board, burdensome and oppressive” demand. It’s only a matter of time before we see the same demands made to other national wholesalers, if they haven’t already been filed.
 
The state has lost track its true mission…improved public safety. It seeks instead to vilify, bankrupt, and destroy the shooting sports. State and local prosecutors, are forgiving criminal behavior, failing to prosecute or take effective action at reducing criminal firearm usage. They stoke the fires of public fear by targeting the industry, but abjectly fail to pursue prosecution of the use of firearms in the commission of a crime. They use public funds to attack the civil rights of lawful citizens and companies, and to defend these unconstitutional laws.
 

With the passage of HB1240 (semi-automatic ban) the same Consumer Protection Act powers are added to the AG’s office. The passage of Senate Bill 5078 (2023 – Industry liability law) extends the AG’s office reach even further, encapsulating the entire firearms industry in Washington and nationwide in a similar scheme.

Now the AG’s office can pursue any firearms-related company nationwide as a public nuisance, assessing fines based on the AG’s perception of marketing practices, business practices, illegal usage and other less quantitative practices in the industry.

The AG’s office also quietly received another $2.3 million for hiring additional investigators to specifically target the firearms industry, under this new law. Its noteworthy that in January, 2023 a New Jersey federal Judge, a Biden appointee, found that the same law in New Jersey was a direct violation of the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arm Act (PLCAA),  federal law protecting the industry from meritless frivolous lawsuits. The PLCAA does not protect the industry from criminal or civil liability if they break the law or manufacture a faulty product, but from being sued for the illegal or irresponsible use of a lawful product.
Judge Zahid Quraishi presiding in that case found that the law was not only illegal, but represented numerous constitutional issues on First, Second and Fourth Amendments grounds. The state legislature still passed the law, even with full knowledge that it’s been found to be illegal under federal law.
On Thursday, May 4th, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), filed a lawsuit against the AG’s office, for eight Consumer Investigative Demands served by the State of Washington. SAF has provided 75,000 pages of documents, but is still being asked for more.

We are living in the shadow of Tom Cruise’s Minority Report, the pre-cogs are predicting behaviors through unconstitutional search methods that violate the Revised Code of Washington, the state constitution and the US Constitution, rather than observing and prosecuting criminal behavior.

While many elected officials in Washington State may strongly disagree with firearms on principal and in practice, we are still a nation with constitutional protections. We should not let the headlines be abused for garnering political traction, fundraising, or erasing a lawful and important industry from our great state. We should not stand by while the unlimited financial resources — your tax dollars — of the state are applied to target an industry with a long and rich tradition, from the birth and preservation of our nation, to the civil rights of each Washington citizen.

In the meantime, criminals will carry on. Drugs will kill more citizens every day. Police will still be hamstrung. The state has lost sight of its public safety mission, blinded by its own virtue signals, and it will hurt ALL of us.

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