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New Washington Law Eases Short Barrel Rifle Restriction; Next Step is to Eliminate It

OLYMPIA, Wash. (April 13, 2016) – Washington state recently took a small step making it easier for citizens to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. The next step is to eliminate the restrictions altogether.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 6165 into law on April 1. The new statute clarifies an existing exemption in state law enabling residents licensed under federal law to “manufacture,  own,  buy,  sell,  loan,  furnish,  transport, assemble, or repair, or have in possession or under control” short-barreled  rifles.

Under both state and federal law, a short- rifle is defined as one in which the barrel is shorter than 16 inches, or a modified rifle with an overall length less than 26 inches.

SB 6165 clarifies a 2014 Washington law that made it legal for state residents to possess and transfer short-barreled rifles as long as they comply with federal regulations. However, the 2014 legislation didn’t appear to allow residents to manufacture the rifles themselves.

The new law clarifies that manufacture of such guns is legal as long as the manufacturer complies with federal law. According to the NRA, Federal Form 1 processing will now be more easily accessible by Washingtonians seeking to build, buy or own an short barrel rifle.

While we don’t see it likely anytime soon, the next step would be to simply remove the state prohibition completely. Short-barreled rifles are regulated under this federal law. If the feds continue to have a ban, enforcement would be up to them, not the state of Washington.

Requiring citizens to have a federal license in order to manufacture, purchase or possess short-barreled rifles violates their right to keep and bear arms. Both the Second Amendment and Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution acknowledge this right; the latter says in part “the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired.”

If the feds want to enforce this law, they should get no help in the state of Washington.