Firearms dealers warned they are required to comply with state’s new gun laws

Governor Jay Inslee File Photo (TVW)
Governor Jay Inslee File Photo (TVW)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have sent a letter to 262 firearms dealers telling them they are required to comply with the state’s new gun laws.

The letter was sent to gun stores in areas where county sheriffs have said they will not enforce Initiative 1639.

Ferguson said the letter was sent because some gun dealers in those counties may be uncertain of their responsibilities.

“Local officials’ personal opposition to I-1639 may have created confusion regarding firearms dealers’ responsibilities,” Ferguson said. “We wrote this letter to ensure these dealers have accurate information about the initiative to avoid legal jeopardy because of statements made by local elected officials.”

Last week, Ferguson sent a similar letter to county sheriffs, reminding them the new law is considered constitutional until a court rules otherwise.

The initiative, passed by state voters in November, changed the legal age from purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 as of Jan. 1. As of July 1, it will require enhanced background checks on sales of semiautomatic assault rifles, as well waiting periods, safety notices and offering to sell trigger safety locks.

The letter says that federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to comply with federal and state laws.

“The ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has the authority to find you have violated state law, which may affect your federal firearms license and could potentially lead to federal criminal charges,” the letter says.

In addition, Inslee and Ferguson note that violations of I-1639 can be investigated by either local law enforcement or the Washington State Patrol and violations could lead to state criminal charges.

“You are certainly entitled to agree or disagree with the policy decisions made by the voters in enacting Initiative 1639, but that does not change the obligation to comply with the law,” the letter warns weapons dealers.