YAKIMA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson released the following statement today after a federal judge in Yakima rejected an attempt by the Silent Majority Foundation to block Washington’s ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines:
“Washington state is undefeated in court against challenges to Washington’s common-sense firearm safety laws. My office wrote this law. It is constitutional. It will save lives. I look forward to continuing to successfully defend it.”
In March of 2022, the Washington Legislature passed the law, requested by Ferguson, which bans the sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood. Ferguson had pursued the policy every year since 2016, after a 19-year-old used an assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine to kill three students and seriously wound a fourth in Mukilteo.
A few months after the shooting, in September 2016, Ferguson stood beside parents of shooting victims, legislators, mayors, police chiefs and representatives of the faith community and vowed to continue proposing legislation to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines every year until it passed.
Thirteen states, including Washington, and the District of Columbia all restrict high-capacity magazines. In November, Oregon joined Washington after voters there approved Measure 114, which restricted magazine capacity and required a permit to purchase firearms in Oregon.
Washington’s law went into effect in July of 2022. Though the plaintiffs in the case argued that they are “irreparably” harmed by it, they did not seek a preliminary injunction to block the law for more than three months after it was in effect.
Today, U.S. District Court Judge Mary K. Dimke denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. Judge Dimke found the plaintiffs are unlikely to succeed on the merits because they failed to establish that the Second Amendment applies to the regulation of high-capacity magazines.
From the decision: “ESSB 5078 is the product of the democratically elected Washington legislature. If the Court is to declare ESSB 5078 unconstitutional, it will not do so lightly. Injunctive relief is ‘an extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief.’ … The Court will not reduce the evidentiary rigor required for an injunction such that Plaintiffs may obtain one here by citing to articles found on the internet, without explaining their academic and scientific worth, or historic accuracy. … At present, the evidence in the record is insufficient to establish that Plaintiffs are likely to prove that large capacity magazines fall within the Second Amendment right.”
Multiple other federal courts have upheld laws limiting magazine capacity. In July, a federal judge in Oregon upheld that state’s new law. In that challenge, Judge Karin J. Immergut ruled that Oregon’s restriction on high-capacity magazines is lawful under the test established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s most recent firearms ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.
There is a second challenge to Washington’s high-capacity magazine sales ban pending in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition, among other parties.
Assistant Attorneys General July Simpson, William McGinty, Andrew Hughes and Brian Hunt Rowe, First Assistant Attorney General Kristin Beneski, Legal Assistant Christine Truong and Paralegal Amy Hand are handling the case for Washington.
Successfully defending Washington’s firearms safety laws
The Attorney General’s Office is undefeated in defending state law from attacks by the gun lobby:
- Northwest School of Safety v. Ferguson: Plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation challenge to Initiative 594, which required background checks on all gun sales.
- Mitchell v. Atkins: Plaintiffs including the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation challenge to Initiative 1639, which restricted the sale of assault weapons to individuals over the age of 21, and imposed background check requirements.
- Slone v. Washington: Plaintiffs including Gun Owners of America challenge to I-1639.
- Silent Majority Foundation, et al. v. Jay Inslee, et al.: Plaintiffs including the Silent Majority Foundation challenge to House Bill 1705, banning ghost guns.
- Hartford et al. v. Ferguson et al.: Plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition challenge to House Bill 1240, which bans the sale of assault weapons in Washington.
- Guardian Arms v. Inslee: Plaintiffs including the Silent Majority Foundation challenge to House Bill 1240, which bans the sale of assault weapons in Washington.
The Attorney General’s Office has also successfully brought cases to enforce firearms safety laws:
- State of Washington, et al., v. U.S. Department of State et al.: Defendants including Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation, sought to distribute 3D-printable gun files.
- State of Washington v. Federal Way Discount Guns: Defendants represented initially by the Silent Majority Foundation sold high-capacity magazines in violation of Washington law.
- State of Washington v. Gator’s Custom Guns: Defendants unlawfully offered more than 11,400 high-capacity magazines for sale.
Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.email@example.com
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