Saturday, April 2, 2011

Silencer Law in Washington State

There's an interesting quirk in Washington State law that allows for the purchase and ownership of suppressors / silencers but makes it a crime to use them. To paraphrase, the code states that the use of any contrivance that reduces the sound report of a firearm is a gross misdemeanor.

Under the NFA, National Firearms Act, it is legal to purchase a suppressor or a handgun fitted with an integral suppressor so long as the purchaser submits an application, passes a background check, and forks over a $200 tax fee. After said transaction, the ATF is allowed to inspect the NFA firearm or suppressor at it's registered location at any time to verify that the weapon is safely secured or, in the case of suppressors in WA state, that it has not been "used." Here's where it gets murky.

While it may not be legal to use a suppressor in Washington state, it is legal to use that same suppressor in neighboring Oregon. There are documented instances of Washington residents traveling to Oregon and legally using suppressed firearms then, at a later date, having them inspected and subsequently confiscated after it was determined that they had been "used."

House Bill 1016 and it's Senate counterpart sought to clear up this strange bit of WA state legal code. These documents proposed an amendment to the language of that code that would continue to make the use of any contrivance seeking to diminish the sound report of a firearm unless possessed in accordance with Federal law a gross misdemeanor. Legislators heard testimony for law enforcement representatives that suppressors were not likely to be used by criminals because they make the weapon harder to conceal. Further more, under the current code, not even WA law enforcement can use suppressors. Law enforcement testified that the use of suppressors in meth lab raids would make it safer for their officers and that those same safety benefits would be passed to civilian shooters as well.

The bill passed and will be signed into law. The new rule will go into effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session, which is July 23, 2011. I suspect that will be a quiet and dangerous day in the woods.

Here's some pictures of guns that I want.

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