March 4, 2024

Washington State FFL Restrictions Heading to the Governor’s Desk

Article Contact: Marie Neumiller,

Why It Matters: Despite existing security and reporting requirements on Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders, a bill is making its way through Washington State that would add onerous restrictions on firearms businesses. During recent testimony, licensed firearms dealers warned that these proposed restrictions will put them out of business. Should FFL locations begin closing as a result of this legislation, Washington State residents will ultimately see their ability to access firearms at a retailer, critical to the exercise of their Second Amendment rights, restricted and in some rural areas eliminated completely without considerable travel to larger retailers who have the means to comply with these new requirements.


  • New legislation proposed in Washington State demands expensive security upgrades in the name of public safety and crime prevention. This legislation continues to progress, despite reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) showing that thefts from firearms retailers amount to only 3.2% of incidents reported annually. (see Figure FT-01)
  • If enacted, this bill is expected to be detrimental to an already highly regulated industry and will limit access to legal firearms purchases.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been actively engaging on this issue to represent the voices of sportsmen and sportswomen.

On Tuesday February 27, 2024, in a near party line vote, the Washington State Senate passed Engrossed Substitute House Bill (ESHB) 2118 “An ACT Relating to protecting the public from gun violence by establishing additional requirements for the business operations of licensed firearms dealers.” Under the guise of public safety and preventing thefts from firearms dealers, this bill will place extreme requirements on those businesses. These restrictions will do little to prevent gun thefts in the state as most firearms reported stolen were taken from private citizens, with only 3% of reported thefts occurring at licensed businesses. These restrictions are so extreme that even the Seattle Times, known for their support of gun control, called them “onerous,” and likely to “open even wider the black market for gun sales.” This bill will force dealers to choose between expensive security upgrades to comply or shuttering their business altogether.

Based on industry testimony, the estimated cost for upgrades and retrofits will range between $250,000 to over $700,000, depending on location, just to become compliant. These figures do not include new annual insurance and data storage costs. The new requirements listed in the bill include:

  • During business hours, except when being shown to a customer or repaired, firearms must be displayed in a manner that entirely prevents access by a member of the public, which may include storage in a locked container or display case.
  • Outside of business hours, all firearms shall be secured on the dealer’s business premises in a locked fireproof safe or vault.
  • Permanently affixed audio and video recording systems must be operational 24 hours per day with the recordings being stored for 45-90 days (depending on location).
    • Recordings must be made available upon request to any person through a court order pursuant to search warrant, insurance claim, or civil discovery process.
  • All licensed dealers must carry a general liability insurance policy providing at least $1,000,000 of coverage per incident.

Failure to meet the above, and other provisions, in this proposed law could result in a class C felony and revocation of their dealer’s license. The largest impacts from this pricey legislation will be felt by smaller local businesses, along with home-based custom gun builders and repair shops. As those small businesses begin to close, hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts will see their access to legal firearms restricted. In addition to restricted access, those wishing to exercise their rights to purchase firearms must consent to having their full transaction recorded with video and audio made available through the court system in criminal and/or civil proceedings.

Since the introduction of ESHB-2118, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has been working with the Washington State Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs and our partner organizations to educate legislators on the impacts this bill will have on our community. This bill’s next stop will be the desk of Governor Jay Inslee for signature. Unless it is vetoed by the Governor ESHB 2118’s restrictions will go into effect on July 1, 2025. CSF will continue to advocate for Washington State’s sportsmen and women and will provide updates.

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