10-day wait, safety training required in Washington State gun bill

Companion legislation was introduced in the state House and Senate.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Waiting periods and safety training would be mandatory for all gun purchases in Washington State under legislation introduced in both chambers of the legislature this week.

Washington State Sen. Jesse Salomon (D) and Rep. Liz Berry (D) unveiled companion bills requiring 10-day waiting periods on purchases and purchasers to provide proof of completion of certified firearms safety training programs within the previous five years.

The bills would prohibit gun dealers from transferring any firearm to a purchaser or transferee until 10 days after the request for a background check; establish a permitting system for firearm purchases, which would apply to firearms transfer applications and record-keeping requirements for all firearms, not just the currently covered pistols and semiautomatic assault rifles; and update firearm transfer and background check processes to conform with the implementation of the state’s firearms background check program.

“There is no one bill that will solve this crisis, but preventing impulse buys by would-be killers, ensuring sufficient time to complete background checks, and requiring safety training to help reduces accidents and suicides are strong steps forward that will save lives,” Salomon said in a release Monday.

The legislation comes as several states with Democratic-majority legislatures and governors plan to push gun control legislation through their chambers in the upcoming session.

One state is acting even before the session starts. Illinois is holding a week-long lame-duck session and is poised to enact an assault weapons ban after House and Senate Democrats and the governor struck a deal on the details.

In 2020, firearms became the leading cause of death among children ages 19 and below, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 690 mass shootings in 2021, up from 610 the prior year and 273 in 2014, when the group’s records begin.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) last month called for the legislature to pass legislation to ban assault weapons, require a permit to buy a gun, and hold gun manufacturers liable in court. Last year, Inslee signed three gun bills into law, including one prohibiting the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

“You need to get a license to drive a car in the state of Washington,” Inslee said at a press conference. “You need to get a license to go fishing. It’s time that you get a license to make sure you have safety training to purchase a gun in the state of Washington.”

Jane Milhans, president of the Tacoma Rifle & Revolver Club, criticized the legislation and said she is already working to marshal opposition to it — though she lamented that lawmakers do not engage with gun rights advocates.

She said because of long waiting times and required costs to take gun safety courses, it could at best delay and at worst deny law-abiding citizens the ability to exercise their constitutional rights.

“I was up till after midnight last night sending out notices to all the firearm groups and especially a women’s firearm group,” Milhans said. “I’ve been an advocate for Second Amendment rights for over 10 years, so I have a pretty extensive list of names.”