Large-capacity magazines will soon be banned in Washington state

After more than three hours of debate, Washington House officials passed a ban on high-capacity magazines in the state late Friday night.

Members of the House voted in favor of 55-42. Friday was the deadline for passing policy bills from the opposite house before they could no longer be considered at this session. Now the bill will be sent to the table of Governor Jay Insley.

Senate Bill 5078 prohibits the manufacture, import, distribution, sale and offer for sale of “ammunition supply devices” containing more than 10 rounds. The bill will take effect on July 1, when it is signed by Inslee.

Violations of the new law will result in a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and / or a fine of up to $ 5,000.

Licensed firearms dealers are exempt from the ban on sales to state law enforcement or military units.

The bill, authored by Senator Mark Lias, D. Lynnwood, at the request of the Attorney General’s Office and was introduced during the 2021 legislative session. The measure was passed by the Washington Senate on February 9 this year before it was submitted to the House of Representatives.

Two dozen amendments were made to the debate, including an amendment by Democratic MP Kirsten Harris-Telly of Seattle to change the definition of “high power” from more than 10 rounds to more than 15 rounds.

She said many of her neighbors in the 37th arrondissement were concerned about the legislation and said she very much weighed their concerns.

Reviewing policies in books and talking about responsibility for guns ignores the fact that black, brown and indigenous gun owners not only face the most violence with guns, but are also most criminalized by that violence, Harris-Telly said.

“My neighbors are concerned that parts of this bill will not affect the fact that we already have stockpiles of weapons and ammunition in the state,” she said. “They want to know that in the face of police violence, which is also gun violence, and other kinds of white advantage … they can defend themselves.”

David Hackney of Tucwila was the only Democrat to oppose the Harris-Telly amendment, while several Republicans, such as MP Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, spoke in support. The amendment was ultimately not adopted along with other amendments that were made to the House. Eight were recalled.

Harris-Telly and MP Steve Kirby of Tacoma were the only two Democrats who voted against the bill.

Many Democrats have expressed emotional pleas to other members of the House of Representatives to pass the law during the debate, citing several mass shootings such as El Paso and Las Vegas when a criminal carried large-capacity magazines with him to commit violence. They argued that if the stores were smaller, the shooter would have to spend more time recharging, ideally limiting the number of injuries.

Republicans have long debated, arguing that the bill is unconstitutional and violates the rights of the Second Amendment. They also argued that the law would not allow large-volume magazines to be kept at the hands of criminals.

“This bill concerns the wrong people,” said House Speaker J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm. “This bill applies to all people who are going to be law-abiding.”

He said he believed everyone had the wrong impression of people with weapons. The debate shows how different opinions are, he said.

“Attacking one is attacking everyone,” Wilcox continued. “If we reduce the Second Amendment today, I think it will make it much easier to reduce the First Amendment.”

Following the adoption of the House of Representatives, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a statement stating that the passage took years of hard work after he originally carried out gun reform in 2016.

“Today, our legislature has chosen public safety over the arms lobby, and I deeply appreciate their service,” Ferguson said. “This policy will save lives and make our communities safer from gun violence.”

Washington will become the 10th state to ban high-capacity magazines if the law is signed. Bans are already in place in Hawaii, California and New York.

The legislative session ends on Thursday.

Sean Sowersby was a freelance contributor to several local and national publications before joining the McClachie Northwest Newspapers, which cover the legislature.

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