Washington State Raises Age Limit to Buy Semiautos to 21

This provision of the state's new gun law went into effect on Jan. 1 and is meeting with defiance.

On Nov. 6, 2018, the state of Washington passed the controversial Initiative 1639 which, among other things, raised the age limit to buy semiautomatic firearms to 21 in the Evergreen State. On January 1, 2019 that initiative became law.

I-1639, which passed with only 59 percent of the vote in the state legislature, raises the legal age to purchase semiautomatic rifles from the federal limit of 18 to 21. It also requires an enhanced background check, training requirements, and a waiting period of 10 business days.

The new measure also adds a "Safe Storage" provision, which creates gross misdemeanor and felony classes of a new crime, “community endangerment.” Those aspects of the law will go into effect on July 1.

"Starting today, young adults between the ages of 18 to 20 will have their rights to purchase semi-automatic rifles stripped away," said Dave Workman, a spokesman for the Bellevue, Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation told the Associated Press, speaking of the age limit, which went into effect on the first of the year.

Gun rights groups, lead by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), are suing the state to halt I-1639, according to the AP.

"We took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Washington and this completely files in the face of both the US and the state Constitution."

- —Chief Loren Culp, Republic, WA Police Department

The suit challenges the new law on the grounds that it violates both the Second and 14th amendments. The NRA and SAF also say the regulation violates gun sellers' rights under the Commerce Clause. The Associated Press lists the plaintiffs in the suit as firearms dealers in Spokane and Vancouver, a 19-year-old competitive shooter, a 19-year-old in the Army Reserves, a 20-year-old recreational shooter, the SAF, and the NRA.

SAF's Workman also told the AP that 1-1639 "will take away firearms from law-abiding residents who can easily pass multiple background checks. It will impair public safety and embolden criminals while placing restrictions on people who already legally own semi-automatic rifles."

According to this story on katu.com, some residents, like Tiffany Teasdale, the owner of Lynnwood Gun, say they will continue to sell semi-autos, like ARs to people ages 18 - 20, because the language of the law doesn't make sense.

"It's a feel-good law, that's what it is," she said in the story. "The term semi-automatic assault rifle doesn't exist for another six months (when the rest of the law goes into effect). How are they telling us we can't sell something that doesn't exist? We can still sell 18 to 20-year-old's AR-15s and semi-automatic shotguns until June 30th at 11:59 p.m."

The story says a flurry of gun buyers under 21 have visited Lynwood Gun in recent days.

Teasdale isn't the only one who plans on defying the new state law. KATU.com reports that law enforcement in both Lewis and Ferry counties have publicly stated they will not enforce the new gun regulations.

"We took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Washington and this completely files in the face of both the US and the state Constitution,” said Loren Culp, who is Chief of Police in Republic, Wash.