Can Washington gun stores meet new regulations or will they have to shut down?

Gun store owners in Washington now have an additional year to determine whether they can adhere to the state’s new law that mandates costly security enhancements, according to The Center Square.

Critics have given the proposed law the moniker of an “FFL Killer,” with the term FFL referring to gun stores that hold a Federal Firearms License.

According to the Institute for Legislative Action of the National Rifle Association, complying with the demanding stipulations of House Bill 2118 will prove to be a financial burden for most Federal Firearms Licensees based in Washington, ultimately leading to the cessation of their businesses.

To comply with the latest regulations, businesses must now have robust security measures in place. This includes reinforcing their storefront with steel doors or bars, ensuring all firearms are securely stored in a safe after hours, and implementing a comprehensive security system with 24-hour audio and video surveillance. Additionally, these recordings must be retained for a minimum of 90 days.

During a recent meeting, Rep. Amy Walen, the sponsor of the bill, expressed her intentions to ensure the safety and security of inventory, maintain standardized record-keeping, ensure timely reporting of theft or loss, maintain video records of transactions, and require liability insurance. She emphasized the importance of these goals to her fellow lawmakers.

During a public hearing in February, Robert Schentrup expressed his support for the bill to the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee.

In 2018, tragedy struck for Andrew Pollack as his 16-year-old sister, Carmen Schentrup, was among the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Schentrup emphasized that the loss of her life could have been avoided, much like the tragic fate of the 822 individuals in Washington who fall victim to gun violence annually.

As per the data provided by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility in 2023, suicide accounts for over 69% of the gun-related fatalities in WA.

Critics of the legislation contend that its onerous regulations are designed to force firearms retailers to close up shop.

In March, Senator John Braun, R-Centralia, stated that the motivation behind the bill’s passage was crystal clear. “That’s 100% the motivation, they’ve made no secret about that,” he told The Center Square.

According to Kirk Evans, the president of U.S. Law Shield in Texas, relying solely on internal safes and security systems to protect firearms may not be enough. “Even if you have the fanciest, most secure internal safe where you store your guns at night, the greatest device on the planet, it’s going to be too much,” said Evans. He suggests that every external door and window should have bars and metal plating to ensure maximum security, regardless of the quality of the internal security system.

The new reporting requirement for owners is also a source of concern for him.

Evans explained that the new regulation increases the reporting obligation, mandating gun dealers to report a missing or stolen firearm within 24 hours. Failure to do so can result in a Class C felony charge for the FFL dealer, even if the theft was committed by an employee or in some other unknown circumstance.

According to Evans, the new law has the potential to cause many firearms stores to go out of business.

Evans predicts that the implementation of this new policy will have a significant negative impact on small businesses. “The little guy is going to feel the brunt of it. I estimate that at least 10-20% of these stores will be forced to shut down,” he stated.

“This bill is undoubtedly the toughest and most comprehensive one I’ve ever come across in any state. Although there’s a silver lining that it won’t be implemented until next year (2025), it’s still a cause for concern. Hopefully, people will get a chance to assess their compliance with the bill during this time.”

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MBS Staff
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