State commissioner to decide on high-capacity magazine ban

Apr 17, 2024, 7:06 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2024, 7:28 am

Photo: In this Dec. 27, 2012, file photo, a variety of military-style semi-automatic rifles obtaine...

In this Dec. 27, 2012, file photo, a variety of military-style semi-automatic rifles obtained during a buy back program are displayed at Los Angeles police headquarters. (File photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP)

(File photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP)

Washington State Supreme Court Commissioner Michael Johnston held a hearing Wednesday afternoon on whether the state’s high-capacity magazine ban should remain or be lifted while the full court considers the matter.

Washington passed its ban on high-capacity magazines, those holding more than 10 rounds, in 2022. The approval of SB 5078 made it a gross misdemeanor to manufacture, distribute or sell magazines with more than 10 rounds, violating the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

A local gun shop owner sued and last week, Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Gary Bashor ruled the ban is unconstitutional.

Past coverage: Judge rules Washington’s ban on high-capacity magazines is unconstitutional

Bashor argued that for Washington to have specific firearm regulations that aren’t consistent with the rest of the country, the state must have historical legislation adopted around the time the Second Amendment was created.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson called Bashor’s ruling “incorrect.” While Johnston granted it.

“Every court in Washington and across the country to consider challenges to a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines under the U.S. or Washington Constitution has either rejected that challenge or been overruled,” Ferguson said in response to the ruling. “This law is constitutional.”

The state is appealing Bashor’s ruling to Washington’s highest court and the ban remains in place. Now Johnston will decide whether the ban remains in place until the full court decides.

“Those magazines are part of the firearm, and you just can’t go around banning guns like that,” Dave Workman with the 2nd Amendment Foundation said.

But supporters of the ban see things differently.

“Even if a good number of the community would not do any harm with those magazines, a very small population would cause a very large degree of harm and destruction,” Zach Pekelis with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility said.

Related coverage: Gun store in Federal Way faces $3M fine for selling high-capacity mags

Johnston said he plans to decide sometime next week, but he seemed to signal which way he is leaning.

“I don’t buy this idea that you need to have an AR-15 or glock or something with 15, or 30 or whatever rounds. I don’t find that persuasive,” Johnston said.

Contributing: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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