It’s estimated that there are about 75-million pistol magazines in the United States that can hold more than 10-rounds of ammunition, and the number of rifle magazines with at least a 10-round capacity is even higher. Most pistols that are sold in the United States come standard with magazines that hold between 10-17 rounds. These magazines are such a common item that it’s odd to know a gun owner who doesn’t have at least a few of them in their possession, and most of us probably couldn’t even tell you how many we have in our gun safes and range bags.
A pair of Washington state senators however, are claiming that these magazines aren’t actually common at all. Tucked away in a new bill filed by Marko Liias and Patty Kuderer that would ban “large capacity magazines” is this rather odd assertion:
The legislature further finds that this is a well-calibrated policy based on evidence that magazine capacity limits do not interfere with responsible, lawful self-defense, and data self-reported by the gun industry showing that the vast majority of handgun magazines hold 10 or fewer rounds.
I’d love to know what data they’re citing and how old it is, but Liias and Kuderer chose not to reveal the source of their claim (of course) while also limiting their statement to pistol magazines, conveniently leaving out all of the rifle and shotgun magazines that would also be banned under their bill.
The anti-gun senators can try to downplay how many “large capacity “magazines are out there, but we know that there are more than enough to be considered in “common use” and protected by the Second Amendment. In fact, just a few months ago a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has federal jurisdiction over the state of Washington, ruled that California’s ban on “large capacity” magazines violates the Second Amendment. From the opinion in Duncan v. Becerra;
“It criminalizes the possession of half of all magazines in America today. It makes unlawful magazines that are commonly used in handguns by law abiding citizens for self-defense. And it substantially burdens the core right of self-defense guaranteed to the people under the Second Amendment.”
Hey, how about that. Looks like the anti-gun Democrats proposing the mag ban in Washington State haven’t read the Ninth Circuit’s decision too closely, (or more likely, they just don’t care) but they must have glanced at it because they’ve taken a couple of steps to try to differentiate their bill from California’s law. Liias and Kuderer included a grandfather clause “permitting” current owners to maintain possession of the magazines they legally purchased, while the California mag ban that was declared unconstitutional in the Ninth Circuit a few months ago requires existing owners to turn them in or destroy them.
I don’t think that’s going to be enough to save the bill from a similar legal challenge, but because the California mag ban case is still a live issue that hasn’t yet reached the Supreme Court, if Washington’s magazine ban passes and becomes law it would most likely take effect before SCOTUS has a chance to hear and rule on the California case. At the moment we’re still waiting to hear if the Ninth Circuit will grant an en banc review of the case, which would add another step in the process and several more months of legal arguments and impatient waiting before a cert petition could be filed at the Court.
That’s a pretty long way of saying that if you’re a Washington state gun owner, start contacting your state senator and representative and encourage them to reject this measure, which is squarely on the wrong side of the Constitution and frankly, is the type of law that both the Left and the Right should work to get rid of, not try to put on the books.
Yes, there’s actually a Lefty argument against magazine bans, even if they don’t care a bit about the Second Amendment. Both Liias and Kuderer have expressed concerns about racial inequality in the criminal justice system, and yet they’re creating a new crime out of thin air that will primarily be used against young minorities in the state’s biggest cities; locking them away or branding them as a criminal for a non-violent, victimless “crime”. This bill stands in stark contrast to their lofty goals of a smarter and fairer criminal justice system. It perpetuates the problems that the senators say they want to solve.
This is an awful bill that’s going to infringe on people’s rights, put people in prison for no reason, and do nothing to prevent violent crime if it becomes law. My hope is that people across the political spectrum will realize the fatal flaws in the idea of the proposed legislation and contact their lawmakers, but at the very least I feel confident that Washington State gun owners will be making their voices heard.