Washington's High-Capacity Magazine Law Faces Constitutional Challenge

 April 12, 2024

In Washington State, a significant legal battle unfolds over gun control laws.

A judge's recent ruling against the state's high-capacity magazine ban has thrust the issue into the limelight, even as the state's Supreme Court temporarily steps in to uphold the law.

Fox News reported that a Washington judge has deemed the state's prohibition on high-capacity magazines a breach of constitutional rights. This law, instigated by Democrat lawmakers in 2022 with the backing of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, sought to curb the sale of magazines holding over 10 rounds. Critics argue this measure infringes on the freedoms enshrined in state and U.S. constitutions.

Gary Bashor, the ruling judge of Cowlitz County Superior Court, spotlighted what he sees as a misalignment with historical firearm regulations. He underscored a prevailing belief among the Founding Fathers against limiting gun rights, casting doubt on the contemporary legal framework's ability to impose such restrictions.

Judge Gary Bashor expressed his viewpoint eloquently, saying:

There was no appetite to limit gun rights by the Founders...The result is few if any, historical analogue laws by which a state can justify a modern firearms regulation.

A Legal Standoff with High Stakes

Despite the ruling, the law remains in effect due to an emergency stay ordered by the Washington Supreme Court as the state prepares its appeal. This move underscores the complex terrain of gun control legislation and judicial oversight. Attorney General Ferguson, now a gubernatorial candidate, stands firmly by the law, asserting its vital role in averting mass shootings.

The ban's enactment has led to legal confrontations with several firearms dealers accused of non-compliance. Notably, Gator's Guns, a store in Kelso, challenged the mandate after Ferguson initiated legal action against them for allegedly selling banned magazines.

The broader ramifications of the U.S. Supreme Court's Bruen decision are evident here. This precedent stresses that gun control laws must echo historical norms of firearm regulation, a criterion the high-capacity magazine ban seemingly struggles to meet.

Continued Debate Surrounding Gun Safety and Rights

As the legal battle wages, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has been vocal in its criticism. The foundation argues that the judiciary's swift intervention to preserve the ban highlights an imbalance in safeguarding governmental and constitutional interests.

Alan Gottlieb, the foundation's founder, voiced his protests with a pointed remark aimed at Ferguson: "Looks like Attorney General Ferguson shot himself in the foot when he went after the gun store for not complying with an unconstitutional gun law."

This case intersects with another contentious law banning so-called assault weapons, illustrating the tense interplay between gun rights advocacy and legislative attempts to mitigate gun violence.

Efforts by Ferguson's office have led to significant settlements, including a notable lawsuit against a Federal Way gun store owner, culminating in a $3 million settlement for violating the high-capacity magazine ban.


To conclude, the ongoing legal dispute in Washington is a microcosm of the national dialogue on gun control. While the state's high-capacity magazine ban aims to reduce the likelihood of mass shootings, its clash with constitutional rights presents a formidable challenge. With the state's Supreme Court momentarily keeping the law in place, the fallout of this legal skirmish could have lasting implications on how firearm regulations are perceived and enacted across the United States, underscoring the delicate balance between public safety and constitutional freedoms.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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