IMPORTANT: It's a Serious Matter of Life

Washington ranked No. 33 for gun industry dependency, Idaho No. 1

Washington state ranks No. 33 in the nation in terms of states that are most dependent on the firearms industry, according to an analysis published Thursday by WalletHub.

The personal finance website compared the economic impact of guns in all 50 states to determine which among them is the most reliant on the gun business, both directly for jobs and political contributions, as well as indirectly through ownership.

"Washington ranks in the bottom 20 states, meaning it's one of the least dependent on the gun industry,” explained WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez in an email to The Center Square. “This is because of its small number of firearms and ammunition dealers and importers per capita as well as because of the strictness of state gun laws and age restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.”

According to a Violence Policy Center study chronicling the decline in gun dealers in America over a period of more than 20 years, the number of federally licensed gun dealers in Washington has dropped dramatically.

Per the study, the Evergreen State saw federal firearms license holders go from 5,724 in 1994 to 1,001 in 2016, a decrease of 4,723 or 83%.

In 2018, Washington voters approved a voter initiative that increased the minimum age to purchase handguns and semiautomatic rifles to 21, and now generally prohibits anyone from transferring a semiautomatic rifle to anyone under 21.

Washington law provides, with certain exceptions, that a person between 18 and 21 may possess a handgun only in the person’s “place of abode,” at the person’s fixed place of business, or on real property under his or her control. Similar rules apply to a person between 18 and 21 regarding semiautomatic rifle possession.

“The state also has a low gun ownership rate at 32.1% and a low search interest for gun sales,” Gonzalez added to the list of reasons for Washington’s low placement on the list.

The figure mentioned by Gonzalez is 10 points lower than the 42.1% figure World Population Review referenced for Washington in a look at state gun ownership rates this year.

While the Washington State Constitution contains language that establishes a strong right for individuals to bear arms, several gun laws were passed by the Democrat-dominated Legislature this year.

Article I, Section 24 of the state constitution reads, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”

In addition, Washington preempts localities from regulating firearms in any manner more restrictive than state law except as explicitly authorized by the Legislature.

Earlier this year, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signed a package of bills tightening the state’s gun laws, including a measure that bans the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. The measure goes into effect on July 1.

On Friday, the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and several other officials, challenging the law.

Inslee also signed legislation that prohibits people from knowingly brining weapons – either carried openly or with a concealed pistol license – to ballot counting sites and on-campus school board meetings. The new law, now in effect, also bans openly carrying firearms at local government meetings and election-related facilities such as county election offices, off-campus school board meetings, and local government meetings. Concealed pistol license holders are allowed to carry weapons in those locations.

Washington’s Pacific Northwest neighbor to the east, Idaho, was ranked the nation’s No. 1 state in terms of dependency on the gun industry, according to WalletHub. Oregon, Washington’s southern neighbor, was ranked No. 25.

Salem News Channel Today

On-Air & Up next

See the Full Program Guide