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Will WA gun shops be able to comply with new regulations or be forced to close?

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(The Center Square) – Gun store owners across Washington have one more year to figure out if they can comply with a new law that requires expensive security upgrades.

Opponents have dubbed the legislation, an FFL Killer. FFL refers to gun shops with a Federal Firearms License.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action wrote, “The onerous requirements of House Bill 2118 will likely put most Washington-based FFLs out of business because of the financial burden to comply.

The new requirements include the installation of steel doors or bars on the storefront, locking up all firearms in a safe after hours, and security systems with 24-hour audio and video surveillance, along with retaining those recordings for 90-days at a time.

Bill sponsor Rep. Amy Walen, D-Kirkland, told fellow lawmakers, “The goals are just to make sure inventory is kept safe and secure, standardized records are kept, theft or loss are timely reported, video of transactions is kept, and liability insurance is carried.”

Robert Schentrup spoke in support of the bill during a February public hearing of the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee.

His 16-year-old sister Carmen Schentrup was killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

“Her death was preventable, just like the 822 Washingtonians killed by gun violence each year,” said Schentrup.

According to 2023 statistics from the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, more than 69% of the gun deaths in WA are from suicide.

Opponents of the bill argue the burdensome regulations are intended to put gun stores out of business.

“That’s 100% the motivation, they’ve made no secret about that,” Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, told The Center Square back in March following the bill’s passage.

Kirk Evans, president of Texas based U.S. Law Shield tells The Center Square, “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. “Every external window and door now must have the bars, metal plating, even if you have the greatest security system known to man.”

He is also concerned about the new reporting requirement for owners.

“It ups the reporting requirement where you have to report a missing or stolen firearm within 24 hours,” said Evans. “In the case of employee theft or something else you don’t know about, you get charged with not having reported it quickly enough and it turns into a Class C felony for the FFL dealer.”

Evans says he thinks the new law will put a lot of gun stores out of business.

“It’s gonna hurt the little guy for sure. I would say just guessing a minimum of 10-20% of these stores are going to go out of business,” said Evans.

“It is by far the most extensive and easily the harshest bill I’ve seen in any state. The only remote good news is the entire bill is it doesn’t take effect until next July (2025) so folks have a chance to find out if they comply.”

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