Tri-Cities group asks judge to block new WA ‘ghost gun’ laws

·2 min read

The Silent Majority Foundation of Pasco has asked a judge to block new restrictions on “ghost guns” as set by Washington state House Bill 1705 signed into law a year ago.

After July 1, 2022, manufacturing, selling or buying untraceable firearms made in recent years or key parts of an unassembled gun became illegal.

As of March 11 the new law further applies to people who possess or receive an untraceable firearm or certain parts of a gun, with a few exceptions, including law enforcement agencies.

That triggered the Pasco group’s motion this week for a preliminary injunction in Stevens County Superior Court in Eastern Washington.

Requiring guns to have serial numbers means that Washington citizens may only bear arms with the permission and approval of the state, according to the Silent Majority Foundation.

The new law also sets standards for federal firearms dealers to issue and keep records of serial numbers.

“This is a marked departure from the fundamental and pre-existing right of the individual to bear arms in defense of himself,” according to a court document filed by Austin Hatcher, a Spokane area attorney.

The foundation wants Gov. Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke to be blocked from enforcing state law to ban the manufacture or possession of untraceable firearms for sale or key parts of an unassembled gun.

The Silent Majority Foundation calls changes to untraceable firearms a “broad attack on Washington’s Constitution,” which prohibits impairing the right of a citizen to bear arms.

“While new technology has made it easier for individuals to self-manufacture firearms, such a practice has a long and rich history in the nation and this state, including its territorial period,” according to a court document.

State officials have argued that ghost guns are particularly attractive to criminals.

A ghost gun suspected of being used in a crime in Merced, Calif., is shown.
A ghost gun suspected of being used in a crime in Merced, Calif., is shown.

But the number of unfinished gun “lowers” sold per month shows that ghost guns are overwhelmingly owned by law-abiding citizens, according to Hatcher in the motion.

About 135 ghost guns were seized in Washington between 2019 and 2022. But a single seller in the state was selling about 200 frames or receivers each month before the change in the law, according to court documents.

The law prohibits untraceable receivers or frames, which include the part of a handgun that holds back the hammer or similar component prior to firing.

“The simple fact is the lack of a serial number does not make a weapon more dangerous, does not make the weapon more likely to fall into the hands of children, nor does it alter the functionality of the weapon,” said the Silent Majority Foundation in a report on its stand on ghost guns.