Clark County sheriff, prosecutor named in lawsuit over assault weapons ban


The recent signing of a bill that banned the sale of “assault weapons” drew an immediate challenge in federal court, with top law enforcement officials in Clark County among those named as targets for the lawsuit.

On April 25, Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1240. The bill prohibits “the manufacture, importation, distribution, selling, and offering for sale of assault weapons,” according to the bill’s title.

The bill has a lengthy description of what qualifies as an “assault weapon,” which includes a list of dozens of specific models, one of which is the Colt AR-15.

Prior to signing the bill, Inslee said assault weapons “have no reason other than mass murder” and said they are “weapons of war.”

“AR-15s should not be idolized,” Inslee said. “They should be prohibited.”

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson first proposed the ban seven years ago following the 2016 mass shooting in Mukilteo, in which the perpetrator used an AR-15-style rifle to kill three and injure another.

Ferguson recounted his promise to Paul Kramer, the father of Will Kramer, who was injured in the shooting, that he would introduce the bill as agency-supported legislation until it passed.

“To be honest, there were times when I thought maybe it’s just not going to happen,” Ferguson said.

He thanked grassroot efforts for getting the legislation approved the seventh time around.

All legislators representing North Clark County voted against HB 1240.

Minutes after the bill was signed, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) announced its lawsuit. It challenges the bill’s legality based on the Second and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The SAF is joined by the Firearms Policy Coalition and three individuals, one of which, Lawrence Hartford, is referenced in the Hartford v. Ferguson case name. Sporting Systems, a Vancouver-based gun store, is also named as a plaintiff.

The bill criminalizes “a common and important means of self-defense,” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said in the foundation’s announcement.

“The state has put politics ahead of constitutional rights and is penalizing law-abiding citizens while this legislation does nothing to arrest and prosecute criminals who misuse firearms in defiance of all existing gun control laws,” Gottleib stated in the announcement. “It is absurd.”

The lawsuit names Ferguson as a defendant, alongside Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste and the sheriffs and prosecuting attorneys for Kitsap, Kittitas and Snohomish counties. It also names Clark County Sheriff John Horch and prosecutor Tony Golik.

Horch said being named in the lawsuit was a surprise.

“I didn’t know I was going to (be) named and don’t know why I was,” Horch stated in an email.

The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the named defendants from enforcing the ban enacted in HB 1240.

SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut called the bill an example of “legislative demagoguery.”

“The hysteria manufactured by the authors and supporters of this legislation is rivaled only by the false characterization of the banned firearms as ‘weapons of war,’” Kraut stated in the foundation’s announcement.

He took issue with the characterization of the listed firearms as “assault weapons,” saying they are “in all respects, ordinary semi automatic rifles.”

“(T)heir distinguishing features make them safer and easier to use, but even if they are considered as a separate group of ‘assault weapons,’ they cannot be banned because they are not dangerous and unusual,” Kraut said.


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  • Whoknows

    It only took ONE (1) act of killing people with assault-type weapons to cause me to wish they were not in public use.


    Yes in a very small amount they have been around since Al Capone days. But back then the general public, did not have them, unless they were given one or more. So deaths by these weapons were rare.


    Deaths by these weapons are anything but rare today. In fact they are common place. Which I suspect, should be banned. I go even further,; all fully automatic weapons should be taken form all citizens and replaced with either a hunting rifle air shotgun, or a pistol, the choice being the person who is affected by that confiscation.


    These weapons serve no hunting purpose as they are illegal to use for hunting. Some will say but we use them for target practice. I would suggest that is not a proper weapon to use for target practice. Never has been since before they were available, and never should be. They are what military personnel use for warfare. They have no other practical use.


    I fully support a total ban, as I would a vehicle designed specifically to kill people. My empathy lies not with those who own these war-style weapons and want to keep them, but with those who are almost daily dying from them.


    Think about not the freedom to own arms, (other than hunting weapons and semi-automatic pistols for self defense) but the freedom to live in peace without the fear of dying with little chance of surviving 20-100 rounds on a normal day at work, at school or anywhere anymore. By the way, I grew up a hunter, and have brought home plenty of deer, elk, duck, geese and pheasant. I'm not opposed to weapons for this purpose. But military style weapons should not be allowed. And for those who believe they will protect their families or homes from another country or partnering countries attacking America, you won't stand a chance once the missiles and the nukes land. That's a false premise


    Don't let rage ignite you. Let empathy guide you


    Wednesday, May 3 Report this

  • jbranstetter04

    A commenter on this article wrote:

    "It only took ONE (1) act of killing people with assault-type weapons to cause me to wish they were not in public use."

    This shows how quickly some people fold when it comes to protecting our Second Amendment rights. It only took one act of killing? How many acts of killing have happened over the years with semi-automatic handguns? I can tell you it's been a lot.

    2019 FBI Crime Stats

    Total murders 13,927

    Murder by Weapon:

    Handgun- 6,368

    Rifles- 364

    Shotguns- 200

    "Knives"- 1,476

    Blunt Objects- 397

    Hands/Feet- 597

    As can be seen from the actual statistics, a lot more people are killed with handguns than rifles of all types. So I ask the question, have there been enough killings with semi-automatic handguns that we should ban those as well? It's obvious from the statistics that handguns are the real threat to life, but they are protected by the Second Amendment in the same way AR-15s are.

    As we know from our Founding, these weapons are not guaranteed for the purpose of hunting and self-protection, although those are valid reasons, the reason for the protection of assault style weapons is to defend ourselves from a tyrannical government. There are some who say that you cannot defend yourself from such a government, that the government and the military are so powerful that they would be able to do anything to the citizens of this country. Those who say that know nothing of rebels and insurgencies, how things really are, about the havoc and chaos that an armed citizenry can cause for the government. I really don't think they're going to use nuclear weapons on the citizens. That would be ridiculous.

    Some who comment on here say that there should be a total ban, that these weapons should be confiscated from all who have them. I don't think that will happen because there are so many who would find that to be the last straw. No, instead they will impede on the rights of the young, saying that they are not equal citizens, that they cannot own one.. they will let Freedom die of old age.

    Monday, May 8 Report this