AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Washington State Gun Sales Drop After New Law Goes Into Effect

Gun sales are like other forms of sales. Some days are better than others. It’s just how it goes.

Where they’re different is that there are a lot more people trying to end them than with most other products. They don’t like guns and they don’t want you to have them.

Of course, they can’t just come right out and try to ban them. That’s throwing the frog in the boiling water. Instead, they take an incremental approach, then deny that the endgame is to get as close to total disarmament as humanly possible.

One common focus is to pass laws making it harder to buy guns, and it seems Washington state’s new restriction is having some ramifications on the firearm industry as a whole.

Gun sales in Washington have fallen dramatically this year, according to federal background check data, as a suite of new state gun regulations took effect.
The drop-off in Washington sales in the first three months of 2024 is much more significant than the modest drop-off seen nationwide in the same period.
The decline follows a nearly unprecedented spike in Washington gun sales at this time last year, as gun buyers rushed to make purchases while state lawmakers debated and ultimately passed a ban on AR-15s and similar semi-automatic weapons that took effect immediately. Washington was the 10th state to ban the high-powered semi-automatic rifles.
On Jan. 1 of this year, a new law took effect requiring a 10-day waiting period and mandatory safety training for all gun purchases in the state.
Gun sales in Washington in January and February, as measured by background checks, were about half what they were in January and February of 2023 — about 19,000 per month this year, compared with about 38,000 per month last year. In March, there were a little more than 22,000 background checks for gun sales in Washington, down more than 70% from the more than 77,000 checks in March 2023.
Nationally, background checks fell by about 11% through the first three months of the year.

Now, decreased gun sales simply because there’s decreased demand is one thing. When a law seems to suppress gun sales, though, we have a bigger problem. Especially since it’s unlikely that people are simply no longer interested in owning a firearm.

However, anti-gun lawmakers don’t seem to be all that bothered. 

State Rep. Liz Berry, D-Seattle, lead sponsor of the law that required the trainings, laughed at some of the embedded advocacy.
“The trainings are really easy to access, they’re not hard or cumbersome to do,” Berry said. “Lower gun sales is not a bad thing unless you’re a gun manufacturer or a gun dealer. We have more guns on the street in this country than we have Americans, it seems like there’s no shortage of guns.”

First, how many guns are in private hands in this country is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that people in Washington state are being prohibited from buying a firearm unless they jump through hoops that they shouldn’t have to jump through. 

No one cares if the training is easily accessible. It’s the requirement that one go through it that’s a problem in and of itself.

And yet, lower gun sales are a bad thing if it’s not driven primarily by a reduction in interest. This is suppression of a constitutionally protected right, which is a huge freaking problem.

Yet Berry is tipping her and her anti-gun allies’ hands here. 

The purpose of gun control isn’t to keep guns out of criminal hands, as they allege. It’s to keep guns out of your hand. That’s what this law is doing and we all know it.

Meanwhile, there’s apparently not even a hint that violent crime is decreasing with these new regulations. That’s because criminals aren’t going into gun stores. They’re not undergoing training or waiting 10 days before taking possession of a firearm. They’re not restricting themselves to firearms that don’t make people like Berry freak out.

It’s just law-abiding citizens who are being impacted, which was always the goal.

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