FILE: Open Carry Ban Washington

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill into law, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., that prohibits openly carrying guns and other weapons at the state Capitol and protests statewide.

The Center Square) – Dovetailing with the hot-button issues of gun violence and abortion in the news recently, several bills passed by the Washington State Legislature this year will go into effect on Thursday.

Per House Bill 1630, the carrying of firearms in certain locations such as school board meetings, city council gatherings, and election offices will be prohibited, with violations being a gross misdemeanor offense.

HB 1630 builds on legislation passed by lawmakers in 2021 and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee banning the open carrying of guns and other weapons at the state Capitol in Olympia and public protests statewide.

Also going into effect Thursday is House Bill 1941 that makes it so schools in Washington can’t conduct drills involving “live simulations or reenactments of active shooter scenarios that are not trauma-informed and age and developmentally appropriate.”

That effectively rules out active shooter drills in schools that mimic real shootings, meaning schools will be limited to focusing on basic lockdown procedures.

The gun-related laws going into effect in two days’ time do so in the aftermath of a pair of recent shootings that rocked the nation.

On May 24, an 18-year-old man fatally shot 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Ten days earlier, a gunman killed 10 people at a Topps Friendly Markets store in Buffalo, New York.

The killings re-ignited the long-simmering debate between Second Amendment advocates and gun control proponents.

During a Thursday speech from Washington, D.C., President Joe Biden called for a ban on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks, red flag laws, and a repeal of the immunity protecting gun manufacturers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products.

In the other Washington, both sides are gearing up for battle. On Friday, the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Bob Ferguson and several other officials, challenging the state’s upcoming ban on large capacity magazines for handguns and rifles.

Senate Bill 5078 prohibits the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, along with the manufacturing, distribution or import of such magazines in Washington. It is set to go into effect on July 1.

Meanwhile, on the abortion front, Washington state continues to bolster access to abortion in the form of House Bill 1851, even as the U.S. Supreme Court may be inclined to overturn Roe v. Wade as suggested by a leaked draft of a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito.

The legislation, which also goes into effect on Thursday, confirms that nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are able to provide abortion care in Washington as a legal medical procedure, and shields both patients and providers from prosecution from outside sources.

HB 1851 is a direct response to a bill passed by the Idaho State Legislature modeled after one in Texas that relies on ordinary citizens to enforce a ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed the bill into law, but the Idaho Supreme Court has blocked the law from going into effect as planned on April 22. Idaho's highest court on May 20 denied a motion to vacate the stay, filed on behalf of the state and the Legislature. 

In late October 2021, the pro-abortion rights research organization Guttmacher Institute projected a 385% increase in demand for abortion in Washington if Roe is overturned, with many of those women coming from Idaho.

Staff Reporter

Brett Davis reports on Washington state government for The Center Square. He previously worked for public policy organizations the Freedom Foundation and Washington Farm Bureau, as well as various community newspapers.