HomeUSASAF, FPC File Lawsuit Challenging Washington HB 1240 Assault Weapon Ban

SAF, FPC File Lawsuit Challenging Washington HB 1240 Assault Weapon Ban

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On the same day Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1240 into law, the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition filed suit challenging it. HB 1240 is an “assault weapon” ban that has drawn national attention for the speed with which it passed and for the breadth of its restrictions. Let’s look at what exactly the law bans, and the issues which the lawsuit raises.

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What HB 1240 Does

So what is an “assault weapon,” anyway? The HB 1240 definition includes the most common semiautomatic firearms. Any semi-auto centerfire rifle with a detachable magazine and an additional “feature” such as a muzzle brake, grenade launcher, pistol grip, forward grip, threaded barrel, or thumbhole stock, is banned. Also, any semiautomatic rifle under 30 inches overall length is banned. Various semiautomatic shotguns are also prohibited, including anything with a pistol grip or magazine tube that holds seven or more shells.

SAF, FPC File Lawsuit Challenging Washington HB 1240 Assault Weapon Ban

Common compliance features like grip fins and thumbhole stocks are expressly prohibited features under HB 1240.

As if that list of firearms with banned features was not enough, it also has a list of firearms banned by name. That list includes oddities like the Algimec AGM-1 (which I had never heard of before looking at this bill). It also includes the HK UMP, which is a machine gun.

SAF, FPC File Lawsuit Challenging Washington HB 1240 Assault Weapon Ban

The list of guns banned by name seems like it was taken from Shotgun News ads in 1985.

This is a short summary, and anyone affected by this law should read it in its entirety. It is also a very good idea to seek competent legal counsel, particularly for businesses that deal with these guns.

The Legal Challenge

How does the SAF/FPC lawsuit attack HB 1240? First, it lays out facts that contradict the reasons stated by the Washington legislature for adopting the law. These include the usefulness of semiautomatic rifles for defense and how common the banned weapons are. Heller and Bruen are also mentioned, and facts are laid out to show how HB 1240 conflicts with those controlling precedents.

With that background in place, the lawsuit turns to the specific violations alleged. The primary cause of action is a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 “creates a cause of action against state actors who deprive individuals of federal constitutional rights under color of state law”. The constitutional rights pointed out are the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.

SAF and FPC ask the court for various remedies. Those include a declaration that HB 1240 violates both the Second and Fourteenth Amendments, an injunction prohibiting state officials from enforcing the law, and attorneys fees (meaning that the defendants would pay SAF and FPC’s costs to pursue the lawsuit). We will keep a close eye on this lawsuit as it progresses.

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