Less than a month before a new Washington State law banning the future sale, import or manufacture of so-called “large capacity magazines” is scheduled to take effect, the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation is leading a federal lawsuit aimed at derailing the new statute.
The case is known as Sullivan v. Ferguson. It was filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Ironically, the lawsuit came as a Seattle-based gun prohibition lobbying group—the Alliance for Gun Responsibility—was preparing for a press event to promote a gun control event in Seattle, according to KIRO News, the local CBS affiliate.
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5078 was passed earlier this year and signed by anti-gun Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee. It will limit magazine capacity for semiautomatic rifles and pistols to 10 rounds. It was pushed through by a Democrat majority in the Legislature.
SAF is joined by the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., a California-based group; Rainier Arms, LLC and a private citizen, Gabriella Sullivan. They are represented by attorneys David H. Thompson, Peter A. Patterson and William V. Bergstrom with Cooper & Kirk PLLC in Washington, D.C., Cody J. Wisniewski at the Mountain States Legal Foundation, and locally by Joel Ard at Ard Law Group.
Defendants are Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste, King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall, Kitsap County Sheriff John Gese, Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, Kitsap County Prosecutor Chad M. Enright and Grays Harbor County Prosecutor Katie Svoboda.
While the magazine capacity limit is promoted by gun prohibitionists, there is no indication such a prohibition is an effective tool against violent crime. Armed criminals don’t obey any other gun control law, so there is no expectation they will comply with this one, gun rights activists contend.
“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.”
Magazines holding more than ten rounds are considered standard equipment for semi-auto rifles and many brands of semi-auto pistols. The majority of semi-auto pistols, depending upon caliber, come standard with magazine capacities as high as 15 or 17 rounds.
“Such firearms are legally owned by Washington residents,” Gottlieb said. “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.”