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Washington State passed the SBR bill, now what?

"Short Barreled Rifles to be Legal in WA"

On April 2nd, WA Governor Jay Inslee signed into law SB5956 striking the largely useless ban on the possession, transportation, acquisition or transfer of short barreled rifles in the State of Washington in accordance with Federal law.

Given that federally licensed short barreled rifles have never been a noticeable problem in any state, the ban can only be interpreted as part and parcel of the Lowry-inspired package of harass the law-abiding gun owner laws passed in 19941.

The new law takes effect on July 1st of 2014 and contains several gotcha! provisions for the careless and unwary. These provisions could potentially land the victim in jail or paying stiff federal or state legal penalties.

While a WA gun owner may possess/transport/acquire or transfer a short barreled rifle in accordance with Federal law under the provisions of SB5956 they may not lawfully manufacture or assemble such a device, nor may they loan or furnish it to others.

Translated, you can't let your buddy or your family use your shiny new SBR you, and only you, as the licensee may have or use the SBR (unless the SBR is owned by a trust or corporation and those persons are named as beneficiaries or members of the corporation).

Only a Class 07 Federal Firearms Licensee (Manufacturer) may legally assemble or manufacture a short barreled rifle in WA and only if they do legitimate business with the military or law enforcement. Thus, WA residents wanting a short barreled rifle can have them registered by 07 FFL holding a 02 SOT. (RCW 9.41.220 clearly states that 07/02 FFLs are exempt as long as they also providing a service to law enforcement or military. This was written to prevent table top dealers from also only manufacturing machine guns etc. for personal use.)

Even if all this were not true, for a Washington resident to make (manufacture or assemble) a short barreled rifle legally under federal law (and thus under state law) even as simply as dropping in a short barrel to a pre-existing firearm or hack-sawing the front end few inches off  the builder would have to complete an ATF Form 1 (requiring CLEO sign-off), pay $200, endure an lengthy background check over a period of several months before being legal.

Given that even after SB5956, making SBRs remains illegal for individual WA residents and the ATF is reasonably unlikely to sign off on Form 1s for an illegally manufactured device.

Finally, SB 5956 does not in any way repeal the ban on short barreled shotguns or on fully automatic weapons in the State of Washington.

The above is a lay analysis relying upon discussions with counsel and other persons, but in no way represents legal opinion. For detailed legal analysis regarding your individual or organizational risks regarding this or any other matter, you should consult a qualified attorney regarding your individual or organizational circumstances.


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