"This is not going to save anybody": Sheriffs slam proposed magazine ban

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

Gun control activists have been trying for several years now to get a ban on so-called high capacity magazines passed in Washington State, but they’ve been stymied thanks to opposition from gun owners and Second Amendment activists. This year, though, anti-gun groups are feeling good about their chances of success, especially since the state Senate has already signed off on putting a ban in place.

But as the mag ban bill moves over to the state House in Olympia, opponents aren’t giving up the fight. In fact, on Wednesday a number of county sheriffs across the state turned out to explain to lawmakers why they’re not on board with the proposed restrictions.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told legislators Wednesday that there was no evidence that banning the sale of high-capacity firearm magazines deterred violence and that the ban was likely to be found unconstitutional.

“There is no evidence that this type of ban is going to decrease violence in Washington, none whatsoever,” said Knezovich.

… Knezovich’s testimony followed that of Margaret Heldring of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, who said “such weapons” belonged in the military and law enforcement but “they have no place in civilian life.”

Knezovich disagreed with that assertion as well as others made by supporters of the bill. He said it was “not correct” to blame mass shootings on high-capacity magazines. He said shotguns with a single slug had been used to carry out many of these shootings.

“In Russia, 19 people were killed with a shotgun,” he said. “The magazine capacity does not deter the amount of damage that can be inflicted.”

Knezovich is absolutely right, but there’s another reason why Heldring’s argument doesn’t make much sense. In an attempt to goose the prospects of passage, supporters of SB 5078 have included a grandfather clause, which means that every gun owner who’s already in possession of a 10+ round magazine could continue to possess it (at least until the Democrats come back and rescind the grandfather clause, as we’ve seen in states like California and New Jersey).

If Heldring truly believes that the 80-million or so 10+ round magazines already owned by law-abiding gun owners have no place in the home, you’d think she’d be objecting to the bill. The fact that she’s not tells me that she and other gun control activists know full well that this bill is only an intermediate step towards making it a criminal offense to possess an ammunition magazine that was legally purchased.

The comments made by Knezovich were echoed this week by other sheriffs in Eastern Washington. Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke and Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer called SB 5078 “ridiculous” and said it would not deter criminals any more than past gun control measures had done.

“All they are doing is taking something away from law-abiding citizens,” said Manke.

“What do-gooders forget is that criminals don’t follow the law,” said Songer.

Even if higher capacity magazines are banned, Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond said it takes only seconds for someone knowledgeable about firearms to trade out a magazine.

“This is not going to save anybody,” he said.

No, but it will allow Democratic politicians to tell their progressive base that they’re “doing something” when it comes to combatting “gun violence.” Passage of the bill would also allow the gun prohibition lobby to declare a victory, and would ensure that those sweet, sweet gun control dollars from anti-gun billionaires like Paul Allen and Michael Bloomberg will continue flowing into the campaign coffers of Washington State Democrats, which is extra important this year given the abysmal standing of the Democratic party nationwide.

This proposed magazine ban has a lot more to do with pandering to the Democratic base than promoting public safety, and I’m glad to see that there are some law enforcement officials who are willing to join gun owners and 2A activists in stepping up and stating facts about what this bill would and would not do. I just hope there are lawmakers willing to listen and learn instead being a rubber stamp of approval for the gun (and magazine) ban fans in Washington State.