A ban on “large capacity” magazines has been a goal of anti-gun Democrats in Washington State for several years, and during this year’s legislative session they were finally able to drag it across the finish line and get it to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for his approval. But even though this bad bill will soon become a terrible law (the magazine ban takes effect on July 1st), that doesn’t mean the fight over the constitutionality of the measure is over.
On Friday the Second Amendment Foundation announced a new lawsuit filed in federal court in conjunction with the Firearms Policy Coalition, along with Washington gun company Rainier Arms and state resident Gabriella Sullivan.
“We’re asking the court to declare Washington’s ban on original capacity magazines to be unconstitutional under the Second and Fourteenth amendments,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We want an injunction against the state because this ban criminalizes something that is common in a majority of states, and also leaves law-abiding Washington citizens more vulnerable to attack by ruthless criminals.”
Under provisions of a law passed earlier this year, Washington bans the future sale, importation, manufacture and distribution of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than ten cartridges. These are widely considered standard capacity magazines by manufacturers of firearms for which they are designed. The legislation was signed in March by Gov. Jay Inslee and takes effect July 1.
“Many of the most popular handguns and modern semiautomatic rifles come standard with magazines that hold more than ten rounds,” Gottlieb noted. “Such firearms are legally owned by Washington residents. As we note in the lawsuit, there is no reliable proof that restrictions on new manufacturing or sales of such magazines will reduce violent crime. This law unfairly and arbitrarily penalizes honest citizens for crimes they didn’t commit, in the hopes of preventing crimes they wouldn’t dream of committing.”
The same could be said for virtually every one of the restrictions on gun owners that Washington State has put in place over the past few years; from universal background checks to I-1639, which imposed waiting periods, age limits, and other restrictions on the possession of so-called assault weapons. Despite all those new laws, violent crime in Seattle reached a 14-year high in 2021, which should be a neon red sign warning lawmakers of the stupidity of trying to curtail criminal behavior by targeting law-abiding citizens.
But Washington State’s legislature is in firm control of Democrats, and that means they’re going to continue to push ineffective and unconstitutional mandates on gun owners in the state. Pushback is necessary, and SAF and FPC have put together a sterling legal team that includes attorneys with years of experience litigating Second Amendment cases like David Thompson from Cooper & Kirk and Cody J. Wisniewski of the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
The Ninth Circuit, which includes the state of Washington, has previously declared that bans on commonly-owned magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition are hunky dory, constitutionally speaking, and that precedent will likely control this case until it gets to the Supreme Court.
However, there’s a very good chance that the Court might have something to say about magazine bans before this new case reaches the justices. SCOTUS has been holding on to the California mag ban case decided by the Ninth Circuit, and it’s expected that after the Court releases its opinion in NYSPRA v. Bruen in a few weeks that the case will either be remanded back to the Ninth with further instructions based on the Bruen opinion or the Court will take up the case on its own. Either way, the Supreme Court’s action will likely impact the suit challenging Washington’s magazine ban, and hopefully for the better.