This legislation, which bans over 50 types of firearms, including popular rifles such as AR-15s and M-16s, has been followed by a surge in highway shootings in the state.
The Democratic Legislature is now considering several additional gun control bills. Meanwhile, more than a dozen shootings have been reported on state highways since the start of the year, according to KOMO News.
Washington State Police (WSP) informed the DCNF that there have been over 190 reported "shooting incidents" in the state to date as of Friday. Nine of these incidents, which occurred on freeways in the Seattle area, are currently under active investigation.
The number of reported shooting incidents in 2023 was comparable, with 199 incidents reported by this time last year, according to WSP.
In January alone, at least seven shootings were reported on freeways near King County, Washington. On January 22, two separate shootings occurred in King County within a span of two hours, KOMO News reported.
Several Washington drivers have voiced their concerns about these incidents. "I'm worried about these random shootings if I'm with my daughter and my family," Wanzhong Tang told KOMO News.
Kendra Hubbell, another driver, expressed her apprehension, saying, "Hearing about all these incidents, I definitely make a point of not looking at someone if they cut me off, just mind your own business and move on, it's not worth engaging."
Mass shootings in the state have also seen a significant increase, rising from four in 2019 to 15 in 2023, according to Axios.
The bill banning assault rifles was portrayed by Washington state Democrats as a response to mass shootings and a response to calls from anti-gun activists. "They are marching in the streets. They are asking for us to take action," Democratic Washington state Sen. Liz Lovelett said in March 2023.
Mike Faulk, Inslee’s press secretary, expressed satisfaction with the legislation's passage, telling CNN in April 2023, "The governor has been advocating for this policy since he voted for the federal ban in Congress in 1994. It will save lives working in tandem with other gun reforms moving this session."
Several more gun control bills are currently being considered in Washington state's legislature. One such bill, H.B. 1902, would require a permit to purchase firearms in the state. Another proposed bill, S.B. 5444, would prohibit guns in several public places, including parks, zoos, libraries, and bus stations. H.B. 2054, another bill currently under consideration, would limit gun-dealers to delivering only one gun per person every 30 days.
Other states with Democratic majorities have also introduced significant new gun laws in the past two years. A California law restricting concealed carry permit holders from bringing firearms into "sensitive places," such as playgrounds, churches, and hospitals, which took effect on January 1, is currently facing legal challenges.
In January 2023, Illinois passed a law banning semiautomatic firearms with a capacity of more than ten rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for handguns. This law quickly resulted in lawsuits, but the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case twice.