Why It Matters: House Bill 1240 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.
- On Thursday, March 23rd, the Washington Senate Law & Justice Committee will host a public hearing on House Bill 1240, a proposed ban on the sale or transfer of modern sporting rifles and other semi-automatic firearms.
- HB 1240 passed the House earlier this month and is now moving quickly through the Senate.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) strongly opposes efforts to restrict these commonly owned firearms and is on the ground in Olympia to oppose this measure and other legislation impacting hunting and recreational shooting in the Evergreen State.’
Washington lawmakers are once again considering a ban on modern sporting rifles and other semi-automatic firearms. House Bill 1240, legislation similar to Senate Bill 5217 that failed to pass during the last session, is now quickly moving in Olympia following changes to the legislative make-up after the November elections. HB 1240, as drafted, 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 HB 1240, 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.
HB 1240 is unfortunately just one of several bills targeting firearm ownership in Washington. Also being heard by the Senate Law and Justice Committee on Thursday is House Bill 1143 that would impose training requirements and a 10-day waiting period to purchase a firearm. Senate Bill 5078, which would allow lawsuits to be brought against manufacturers, sellers or transferers of a firearm for third-party criminal misuse, is also scheduled for a committee vote in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee on March 24th.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has been on the ground Olympia throughout this legislative session and is working with partner organizations to oppose these short-sighted efforts that seek to severely limit and restrict our hunting heritage and firearms rights. CSF, as a Co-Chair of the Washington Fish & Conservation Partnership, has helped lead opposition from the sportsmen’s community on each of the bills, including submitting coalition letters raising concerns to HB 1143, HB 1240, and SB 5078.