Why It Matters: Senate Bill 5217, and the expected reintroduced version, seeks to ban many semi-automatic firearms commonly used by America’s sportsmen and women in hunting and recreational shooting. Modern sporting rifles and semi-automatic firearms are not only important to our hunting heritage but are highly popular in the recreational shooting community. This legislation would severely undermine our hunting heritage, firearm rights, and America’s most successful wildlife conservation program – the Pittman-Robertson Act.
- Washington legislators will once again be considering a proposed ban on the sale or transfer of modern sporting rifles during the upcoming 2023 legislation session.
- Legislation similar to Senate Bill 5217, which was introduced in the previous session, is expected to be reintroduced and would ban a number of modern sporting rifles and other semi-automatic firearms that are commonly used in hunting and recreational shooting.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation strongly opposes efforts to restrict these commonly owned firearms and will be on the ground in Olympia to oppose this measure and other legislation impacting hunting and recreational shooting in the Evergreen State.
Washington lawmakers will once again be considering a ban on modern sporting rifles and other semi-automatic firearms during the upcoming 2023 legislation session. Legislation similar to Senate Bill 5217, previously introduced during the 2021 regular session, is expected to be re-introduced, and with changes in the legislative make-up in Olympia following the November election could advance further than in previous years. As previously drafted, the legislation specifically bans listed firearms, but also includes several “catch-all” provisions, including one that would ban semi-automatic firearms with certain aesthetics or cosmetic accessories that do little to nothing to change the core function of the firearm. Modern sporting rifles and semiautomatic firearms, like those targeted in SB 5217, are commonly found in the hands of hunters and recreational shooters throughout the nation who value them for their durability and reliability.
In addition to restricting access to these firearms for hunting, recreational shooting and a wide variety of other lawful purposes, a ban on modern sporting rifles and semi-automatic firearms would also impact conservation funding in the state. Washington’s law-abiding hunters and shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays-public benefits” structure, Washington’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales, and also a 10-11% federal excise tax on firearm purchases under the Pittman-Robertson Act. Last year alone, over $21 million dollars was generated through Pittman-Robertson for Washington state, providing vital funding revenue to the state’s conservation, habitat restoration, and wildlife management efforts.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) will be on the ground in Olympia during the upcoming legislative session and will be working with partner organizations to oppose this legislation to ban modern sporting rifles and other semi-automatic firearms, along with other short-sighted efforts that seek to severely limit and restrict our hunting heritage and firearms rights.