Washington State sold surplus 'high capacity' magazines after banning them

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,file)

Well, this is awkward for Gov. Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and all the Democratic lawmakers in Olympia who voted to ban the sale and purchase of “high capacity” magazines. As it turns out, the state of Washington saw fit to auction off about 100 magazines, including many that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition, even after Inslee signed the bill into law last week.

A hat tip to The Gun Feed for highlighting the auction, which didn’t wrap up until March 25th. That was two days after Inslee signed three gun control bills into law, including the ban on buying or selling “high capacity” magazines.

While the auction description was fairly vague, pictures at the website GovDeals.com clearly show multiple magazines that are capable of holding at more than ten rounds of ammunition.

Up for auction is a lot of approximately 100 used handgun and AR clips. There is quite the assortment in this lot. I noticed clips for Kimber, Ruger, Glock, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson and much more. In this lot there is a variety of calibers like 9mm, 380ACP, 45, 40, AR15, 22, 357 and many others. I even saw 2 6mm high powered air rifle clips in this lot.

See the pictures for more details. Personal inspection of the lot is highly recommended.

This asset may contain defects. The agency (Seller) makes no warranty, guaranty or representation of any kind, expressed or implied, as to the merchantability or fitness for any purpose of the property offered for sale. ALL SALES ARE FINAL. Sold as is, where is.

Weight : 17.8 lbs. (Pallet Included)

Dimension : 15″H x 15″W x 15″D – Lot Size

Overall Condition : Used

The magazines were sold by the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, a state agency that is funded “primarily by the revenues we receive from the agencies for which we provide services,” which means that not only was the state government auctioning off magazines that it had banned, but it’s apparently going to be using the roughly $1,700 winning bid to help fund state government.

As hypocritical as the sale is, there’s nothing illegal about it because the new ban won’t actually take effect until July 1st. Until then, gun stores and government auction houses are free to continue selling magazines of all shapes and sizes to customers. Still, given the anti-gun rhetoric from Inslee, Ferguson, and other Washington State lawmakers who decried the sale of “high capacity” magazines, I’m very curious about who, exactly, decided to proceed with the auction knowing that it ran afoul of the stated desires of the Democrats running the state government.

Whoever made the call, I’d like to buy them a beer, because they aptly demonstrated the ridiculous nature of Washington’s mag ban. As a reminder, here’s a small portion of what Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in response to the ban winning final legislative approval.

“Today is the fulfillment of years of hard work from so many,” Ferguson said. “More than five years ago, I stood with the parents of shooting victims, legislators, mayors, police chiefs and representatives from faith communities to say enough is enough, and proposed banning the sale of high-capacity magazines in Washington state. Today, our Legislature chose public safety over the gun lobby, and I am deeply appreciative of their service. This policy will save lives and make our communities safer from gun violence.

If barring these magazines from being sold will save lives and make Washington a safer place, then why did the state government turn around and auction off several “high-capacity” magazines to the highest bidder? Why not destroy them instead? It seems silly to argue that these types of magazines should be off-limits to the general public when the state government doesn’t have an issue selling them for a little more than $1,400 cash (not including taxes and fees).

Something tells me that this auction is going to be used as evidence by those challenging the law once it officially goes into effect later this year; bolstering the argument that the magazines now banned from sale or purchase are in fact in common use for a variety of lawful purposes and are therefore protected by the Second Amendment. Between now and then, however, Washington State gun owners can still purchase all of the “high-capacity” magazines they want, and I suspect sales will be brisk between now and July 1st, even if buyers are making most of their purchases from gun stores and not government auction houses.