Gun owners worry this move in Olympia could ban some firearms
This year state lawmakers will review a high priority for gun control activists: Restrict high-capacity magazines.
House Bill 1068 would make it illegal to buy, sell or transfer gun magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. People who currently own such components would be allowed to hold on to them.
The restriction is a priority issue for gun control advocates. The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which began work following the Sandy Hook shooting, lists restrictions on high-capacity magazines at the top of their 2019 policy agenda.
Spokesman Tallman Trask called high-capacity magazines a “key factor” in shootings across Washington and the country.
“We know they’re used commonly in mass shootings, and we know they’re actually used often in the kind of everyday gun violence we see,” Trask said. “We know that when they are used, more people are shot and more people die.”
Having fewer rounds of ammunition could give potential targets of mass shooters a chance to escape when the shooter reloads, Trask said.
The legislation is being proposed at the request of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
“Placing limits on high-capacity magazines is a meaningful — and achievable — policy that will increase public safety,” he said in a statement.
Similar bills were proposed the past two years, but never passed. The incoming state legislature, with new Democratic members, could be friendlier to gun control.
The House will have 57 Democrats out of a total 98 members, while the Senate will have 29 Democrats out of 49 total.
“I am confident that if either body brings this legislation to the floor for a vote, it will pass,” Ferguson said.
The Christmas Eve pre-filing of the bill didn’t escape the attention of gun owners, who have been taking to social media to alert others and urge them to call their legislators.
“There is at least the perception among gun owners that if they can ban a piece here or a component there, eventually they’re going to get around to banning the entire firearm,” said Dave Workman, who has been following the social media discussions as a journalist with the Second Amendment Foundation’s publications.
While a ban on selling magazines that hold 10 rounds of ammunition may be incremental, many gun owners see it as a threat to the Second Amendment right to bear arms, he said.
“The fact that some people abuse that right, at least in the firearms community, that doesn’t translate to, ‘Yeah, we need to penalize everybody because of the acts of a few bad guys,’” Workman said. “We need to punish the bad guys and leave everybody else alone.”
The Second Amendment Foundation and others have sued to stop similar legislation in California.
Nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted prohibitions on high-capacity magazines, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.