Magazine ban approved by Washington State Senate

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Washington State gun owners would be barred from purchasing ammunition magazines that can hold more than ten rounds under legislation approved by the Democratic-controlled state Senate late Wednesday. The 28-20 vote marks the first time that a magazine ban has been approved by a legislative chamber in the state, and it comes as Democrats like Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell are pushing for the legislature to prioritize a number of anti-2A bills before lawmakers leave Olympia one month from today.

Despite the Democratic dominance in the state legislature, SB 5078 isn’t guaranteed passage, so gun owners should not give up their contacts with their state representatives. It’s worth noting that the language of the bill (at least for the moment) doesn’t go as far as similar magazine bans approved in recent years in California and New Jersey, which not only barred the sale of “high capacity” magazines but their continued possession as well. As SB 5078 currently stands, the bill restricts the “manufacture, distribution, or sale” of the magazines, but not possession itself.

I think that’s by design, and a clear attempt to make the bill more politically palatable to both far-left Democrats who don’t want to see any more laws that put people in prison put on the books (the bill targets sellers and makers of magazines and not those found in possession of them) and more “moderate” Dems who can now tell voters they didn’t do anything to take away their magazines, while making it much more difficult for gun owners to acquire them in the future.

“This is a serious bill that will jeopardize the safety of Washingtonians,” Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, said during the debate.

“These are the regular magazines we see out there every day,” Fortunato said at another point.

Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, pointed to the magazines already in circulation among gun owners, saying, “This bill isn’t going to do anything.”
Oh, it’ll do something. It’ll hurt small independent gun shops and burden law-abiding gun owners, but it won’t have any impact on violent criminals. Unfortunately, that’s not all that important to progressive Democrats in Washington State, who want to be able to point to the passage of a gun control bill this year in part to goose turnout among their base come November.
So far the Democratic House Speaker hasn’t committed to bringing the bill to the floor for a vote (at least publicly), and there’s a chance that Republicans in the House could stall the bill’s progress as they did in 2020, when they forced days of floor debate over a similar measure, causing Democrats to pull the bill in response. With just a month left in the legislative session, Democrats are going to have to start prioritizing which bills are “must pass” pieces of legislation, and that means there’s still an opportunity to defeat the magazine ban and other gun control bills, including an attempt to strip away the state’s firearm preemption law and allow localities to impose their own set of gun control laws.
In fact, I’ll have another story later today focusing on the fight over preemption in Washington State, and the bad faith arguments being used by anti-gun politicians eager to put their own stamp of disapproval on our Second Amendment rights by enacting local gun control ordinances. Just as with the magazine ban, the stated intent is to improve public safety, but the real target are the state’s law-abiding gun owners.