Opinion

Joys of legal silencers in Washington | Firearms Lawyer

Gov. Christine Gregoire signed three gun bills into law passed by lawmakers during the regular session. HB 1016 allows use of suppressors. Known as silencers, suppressors are common in many other states. Federal law requires some red tape with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).

European gun enthusiasts have used silencers for years because it eliminates many of the complaints about noise that plague gun ranges.

HB 1455 deals with where to petition the courts for the right to possess firearms. People previously convicted of certain crimes or involuntarily committed on psychiatric grounds are presently able to petition for their gun rights in any county within Washington. After July 22, petitioners must file in the county where they reside or in the county where the conviction or commitment occurred.

Under SHB 1923, a check with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) will determine whether individuals can obtain a concealed pistol license. Thus, a person with a valid, current CPL issued after July 22 will not be required to undergo a NICS check when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. BATFE will have to make a formal determination that the new law meets the federal standard.

The legislative enactment that has gotten the most attention is the legalization of firearms suppressors. Neighboring states like Oregon permit silencers; Washington has permitted possession but not the actual use of a silencer. The BATFE issues tax stamps to gun owners in Washington — as they do in many other states.  The stamp costs $200 and requires permission from a chief law enforcement officer (a sheriff or police chief).

The red tape involves a good deal of time and expense to own something that could not be used! Now shooting a round through your silencer in this state will no longer be a crime.

I advise people who want to purchase a suppressor to create a National Firearms Trust. Federal law still requires the signature of a chief law enforcement officer, but an NFA trust makes the signature unnecessary.

In the Seattle area, obtaining the required signature can be problematic. People wanting to own silencers will now get more benefit from an NFA Trust because they can actually get out and shoot in peace and quiet without going to Oregon or Idaho. You also need to go to other states to own fully automatic weapons. The Legislature is unlikely to allow private ownership of full auto weapons anytime soon.

All three of the bills above will take effect on July 22. There has not normally been too much gun legislation enacted in Olympia because the anti-gun legislators have been in a prolonged stalemate with pro-gun lawmakers.

 

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