Democrats in Washington want to ruin gun shops with ‘insurmountable’ costs

Washington State Democrats are framing the 2024 legislative session as an all-out assault on gun rights. They are attempting to impose licenses for gun ownership as well as a per-bullet charge.

Now, far-left lawmakers are attempting to put gun shops out of business by imposing exorbitant, unnecessary expenses under the guise of public safety. What they’re asking for is impossible, which is precisely the point.

Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) stores are subject to strict control, needing large security investments or risk losing their license, incurring crippling financial penalties, and facing jail time.

HB 2118 would completely overturn the present regulations, establishing a new set of rules that gun dealers would be unable to meet.

Every outside door or window must have bars or grates, a security screen, or commercial-grade metal doors. In addition, all firearms must be housed outside of office hours in sealed fireproof safes or vaults. The dealer must also have a general liability insurance policy with at least $1,000,000 coverage per event. Furthermore, it must keep any trace requests from law enforcement for six years.

The digital security system must incorporate motion and sound detectors. Video and audio surveillance must clearly record every business transaction and practically every aspect of the business.

They must be open 24 hours a day, all year round. The recordings must be stored for at least six years. Only the licensed dealer has access to the footage, and it can only be released under certain conditions to designated receivers, such as law enforcement.

All requirements must be in place by January 1, 2025. This provides FFLs fewer than nine months from the bill’s last possible passage date during the legislative session. It’s exactly how bill author State Rep. Amy Wallen envisioned it.

Concerns from gun shop owners
Democrats sought out public commentators from the anti-gun movement. Many testified from out of state because that is where they reside. Local gun shop owners, on the other hand, spoke out against the legislation, claiming that they already follow strong safety standards.

Heidi Lee is a co-owner of Vancouver-based Sporting Systems. She claims that her security system and training are the reasons why no firearms have ever been stolen from her shop. It features bollards, barred windows, and glass-paned doors. The business includes 24-hour security alarms with motion detectors and glass break sensors. The store even has an occupancy limit. There’s nothing else she can do to keep it secure. She said that HB 2118’s sole purpose is to force her out of business.

“House Bill 2118 is not financially feasible for small businesses like mine,” she stated during a January 16 hearing. “All your mom-and-pop stores are gradually closing. Criminals and drug-induced zombies have replaced a sense of community and safety. But I will continue to attend every hearing. “I am not going anywhere.”

Democrats in Washington want to ruin gun shops with ‘insurmountable’ costs

It’s not affordable

Even though Lee’s security system is top-notch, she estimates that upgrading it to satisfy the bill’s standards would cost at least $700,000. Similarly, Jeremy Ball, owner of Sharpshooting Indoor Range in Spokane, claimed he was given a price he couldn’t pay.

“The security system quote I received for this was estimated at $282,000.” And this does not include the annual backup fees. “That’s an insurmountable cost for a family-owned and operated business,” he said.

Assuming the surveillance video is 1080p at an average of 5Mbps, which is within the standard range for 1080p video to assure high quality, the system would require 117.1 terabytes for six years of continuous 24/7 video and audio recording—per camera. From a consumer standpoint, without a video surveillance system (including camera installation), external terabyte hard drives would cost at least $300,000 alone.

Problem in search of a solution

Michael Finley of the National Shooting Sports Foundation also studied the figures. Starting from scratch would be too expensive for new enterprises.

“According to our calculations, for six years of video on record at any given moment, an average 2000 to 3000 square foot store would require twelve cameras. It would take around 4000 terabytes of space. To put that in context, the expense of complying with this measure over five years, rather than six years because they do not compute that high, would be $3.3 million per store. It will undoubtedly put out every dealer in the state. And that is not sensationalistic to express.”

This is a costly solution in search of a problem. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, weapons, and Explosions (ATF) reported only 16 stolen weapons from gun shops in 2021.

Owners of gun shops have said that they will close. Wade Gaughran operates Wade’s Eastside Gun Shop in Bellevue, one of the state’s largest gun shops. He took issue with the idea that gun stores do not keep weapons safe and secure. And he mentioned what the law is actually about.

“The alarm system I have in my shop is the same alarm system that the local billionaires use,” he said. “We’re on top of our game.” There is no way we can comply with this law and continue to do business. The burden of time, manpower, and money will crush us. And I am a huge trader. I’m one of the biggest dealers in the state.

Smaller dealers, those who operate out of strip malls and small stores, will be unable to continue in business if this is implemented. As a result, this bill delivers a death blow to the FFL. And that appears to be the intent. Not to regulate, but to help reduce crime. It’s to knock us out of business and terminate gun sales in Washington with one measure that is extremely ill-intended.”

Of course, Gaughran is correct.

Aside from pricing, Washington Democrats do a little study on what they propose. It certainly explains why so much of the measure duplicates federal regulations. To make the entire bill appear reasonable, lawmakers included the duplicative so-called “common sense” requirements (a word consistently echoed by anti-gun activists who spoke in support of the bill).

While Democrats in Washington have steadily eroded gun rights, they have also campaigned to keep criminals out of jail and to have convicts released sooner. Perhaps this is why Seattle experienced the greatest number of killings ever recorded in 2023.

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