Washington gun bill includes annual home inspections

Police home inspection

Photo credit LA Times

December’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has prompted lawmakers across the country to propose stringent gun laws. Washington state legislators now say maybe they’ve gone too far.

Washington’s SB 5737 – 2013-14, introduced Feb.13 by three Seattle Democrats, like many similar bills, includes an outright assault weapons ban. Individuals already possessing an assault weapon are “allowed” to retain them, but with the proviso that the owners submit themselves to annual police home inspections.

“They always say, we’ll never go house to house to take your guns away,” Lance Palmer, a Seattle trial lawyer and self-described liberal, told The Seattle Times. “But then you see this, and you have to wonder.”

The pertinent language reads:

“In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall … safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.”

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches, and the Supreme Court has long held that warrantless searches are per se unreasonable absent exigent circumstances giving probable cause. Apparently, whoever drafted the bill believes that possession of a firearm is, in and of itself, probable cause to conduct such a search.

“I’m a liberal Democrat — I’ve voted for only one Republican in my life,” Palmer told The Times. “But now I understand why my right-wing opponents worry about having to fight a government takeover.”

He added: “It’s exactly this sort of thing that drives people into the arms of the NRA.”

As it turns out, two of the bill’s sponsors — Sens. Ed Murray and Adam Kline — took a cue from their congressional brethren and didn’t bother reading the bill before signing on to it.

“I made a mistake,” Kline told The Times. “I frankly should have vetted this more closely.”

“I have to admit that shouldn’t be in there,” Murray said, agreeing that it’s more than likely unconstitutional. Astonishingly, Murray is the bill’s prime sponsor.

The last time government authorities routinely conducted warrantless home searches on this continent, the people responded with a revolution.

Read more at The Seattle Times.

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41 thoughts on “Washington gun bill includes annual home inspections

  1. Taxpayer says:

    I think we should search the homes of the non-licensed. If guns were found,They would be the criminals.

  2. AMK says:

    You're thinking of an "Assault Rifle" (Automatic or Burst Capable). An Assault Weapon (Semi-Automatic) is the term that was used from 1994-2004 weapons ban, describing the AR-15 (class of weapons). The M16 is an Assault Rifle and an Assault Weapon. The AR 15 "was" an Assault Weapon (or Military Style weapon in the current vernacular), until the term is redefined.

    The terms sounds very similar and are often confused, by politicians, the media, and even the layman.

    Politicians are now looking to ban "Assault Weapons" or Semi-Automatic Military Style Weapons. Depending on who you talk to, this ranges from any semi-automatic magazine fed firearm (which is all pistols, and most rifles) to cosmetically similar rifles which "look like" those used by those in various militaries.

    The major argument is that "no one needs a Military Style Weapon" or "they aren't used for hunting." The first argument was settled in the 1934 Supreme Court case which establishes that as long as a firearm can be used for military or militia service it cannot be banned. The second argument is round or ammunition based. The primary ammunition of the AR platforms are the .223 and the .308. The .308 is used for deer. The .223 is used for coyote and other small varmint.

  3. AMK says:

    It was removed as soon as the senators realized it was there.

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