Washington State’s High-Capacity Mag Ban Ruled Unconstitutional, Appeals Already Flying

by Vern Evans

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A Washington state judge declared the state’s prohibition on high-capacity ammunition magazines unconstitutional, sparking immediate appeal actions that keep the law in force for the present, as reported by The Seattle Times and cited by the Associated Press. Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Gary Bashor’s ruling on Monday challenged the 2022 law, which bans magazines holding more than 10 rounds, on grounds of violating both the U.S. and Washington state constitutions. However, the law remains active following an emergency appeal by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, upheld by the state Supreme Court.

This legal battle revolves around the compatibility of the ban with constitutional rights and historical standards of firearm regulation. Judge Bashor’s decision referenced the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen ruling, which adjusted the criteria for evaluating firearm restriction challenges, emphasizing adherence to the nation’s historical tradition rather than contemporary public safety concerns.

Despite Ferguson’s defense of the ban, citing a tradition of firearm regulation and the contemporary issue of gun violence and mass shootings, Bashor was unconvinced. He highlighted a lack of historical precedent for such a regulation dating back to the Second Amendment’s inception, suggesting the founders anticipated technological advancements in firearms without an intention to limit gun rights.

The ruling has ignited controversy, with Ferguson labeling it as incorrect and pointing to other jurisdictions that have upheld similar bans as constitutional. Meanwhile, the law’s enforcement pause, sought by Ferguson to prevent the influx of high-capacity magazines into Washington, underscores the tension between gun control efforts and constitutional rights debates.

As is nearly always the case in these rulings, it will be awhile before the dust settles and any true outcome achieved. Meanwhile, gun owners need to keep following the courts to ensure they are in compliance with the law or at least conscientiously objecting to it so their breaking the law is an informed decision such as in an estimated 90 percent-plus AR-owning Illinois residents who refused to register their guns under current law in that state.

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