New measures that would expand rights for short barreled rifles and sport-shooting ranges were discussed Friday in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.
Under Senate Bill 5956 a person would be allowed to own a short barreled rifle if it is legally registered. The weapon must have a barrel shorter than 16 inches, or be a rifle smaller than 26 inches. The owner must also be in compliance with The National Firearms Act, which requires buyers to be get approval from a local law enforcement officer, pay a $200 tax and register the gun with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Currently, it is a class C felony to own a short barreled rifle with certain exceptions for members of the armed forces and law enforcement. Washington is in the minority with this restriction, as more than 40 states allow residents to own these rifles.
Another bill discussed would exempt sport shooting ranges from certain liabilities, as long as gun-users are in compliance with noise control rules.
Senate Bill 6198 would prohibit property owners from taking a nuisance action, typically related to noise and safety, against shooting ranges.
Prime sponsor Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, explained that the goal is to protect “diminishing” gun ranges from further restrictions.
“You have to have a range where law enforcement can practice and we want them to be well-practiced,” said Roach.
Opponent to the bill, Neil Wachter, deputy prosecuting attorney in Kitsap, said that the bill creates special rights for shooting ranges that neglect property rights. He added that shooting ranges are mostly unregulated and have virtually no noise requirements that would keep the bill in check.
The committee did not take action on either of the bills.