Finding a balance in protecting our constitutional rights while saving lives

With the rise in violent crime in our state and across the nation, gun control is an easy but misguided target as the solution to these problems. Yet, in 2021, the Legislature severely restricted law enforcement’s ability to pursue suspects and passed several other restrictions on law enforcement, inhibiting their ability to keep our communities safe. This has led to an increase in criminal activity.

Two bills this year, again, do nothing to intercept or restrict criminal gun possession but restrict law-abiding residents to improve public safety.

House Bill 1143 would impose mandatory firearm training for all firearms purchasers, a 10-day waiting period for all firearms transfers, and require dealers to record every transfer.

Mandatory safety training may seem like a good idea; however, there are at least a couple constitutional problems with the bill. The cost of training will fall on purchasers, creating an unconstitutional state-imposed financial burden on those wishing to exercise their right to own a firearm. There is no other constitutional right that requires training in order to exercise that right.

Legislators must consider the resources and impacts needed to implement this policy. Without the necessary trainers and resources to carry out the training requirements, we will likely leave responsible gun owners, and prospective gun owners, in a system effectively denying them a pathway to exercise their constitutional rights.

House Bill 1240 would prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any weapon that meets a new definition for “assault weapon,” subject to various exceptions for licensed firearm manufacturers and dealers and for individuals who inherit such weapons. This bill would classify fairly common firearms as “assault weapons” based on cosmetic features such as thumbhole stocks and second-hand grips. A violation of these restrictions would be a gross misdemeanor and actionable under the Consumer Protection Act. Gross misdemeanors can result in up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

Whether it be for protection, sport, or hobby, generations of Washingtonians have owned and used guns responsibly that fit the new prohibited class of firearms.

A better, more effective approach would be legislators coming together in a bipartisan way to address the root causes of firearm violence, including addressing poverty and economic despair, drug addiction, and untreated mental health needs.

Attacking the constitutional rights of legal gun owners is not a solution – it’s an approach that doesn’t involve putting in the work to develop real solutions to our problems.

I believe there can be a balance in protecting our constitutional rights while saving lives. To that end, I voted for a bill allowing individuals to voluntarily add their names to the federal firearm background check system. This would enable individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts and mental health challenges a tool to prevent them from purchasing a firearm. After adding their name to the system, they would be denied the sale of a gun if they were to attempt a purchase. An individual may rescind their voluntary participation after a seven-day waiting period.

As always, I welcome ideas and participation from residents of the 16th District as I work to defend individual rights and support safe communities in our state.

Editor’s Note: Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla, represents the 16th Legislative District.

State Representative Skyler Rude, 16th Legislative District
122G Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7828 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000