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Washington Senate passes ban on sale of high-capacity magazines

The bill would ban the manufacturing, import, distribution or sale of high capacity magazines in Washington state.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Senate passed a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines by eight votes Wednesday night.

Senate Bill 5078 prohibits the sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, along with the manufacturing, distribution, possession, import, sale or purchase of high-capacity magazines in Washington state.

In an adopted amendment, the bill authors defined high or large-capacity magazines as an ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition, or any conversion kit, part, or combination of parts that can be assembled to allow someone to carry more than 10 rounds. 

Should the bill become law, large-capacity magazine owners grandfathered in would face restrictions on the sale or transfer of the magazines under the new bill. Anyone found to be violating the law could be charged with a gross misdemeanor.

If it passes the house, the ban would limit not just magazines for rifles that hold 20 or 30 rounds, but for a host of semiautomatic pistols, which often carry more than 10 rounds.

Certain government officers, agencies, employees, contractors, law enforcement, and corrections and military officers would be exempt from the bill, alongside registered firearm dealers selling to an exempt party. 

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson applauded the passage of the bill, tweeting "The Washington State Senate chose public safety over the gun lobby tonight. The Senate passed legislation banning the sale of high-capacity magazines. The data is overwhelming. This bill will save lives. Thank you."

In the past, bans on high-capacity magazines have faced legal challenges from gun rights groups. The bill authors wrote they are not attempting to pass an outright ban, but instead they only intend to limit the sale or transfer of large-capacity magazines, allowing those who previously owned or inherit large-capacity magazines to keep them.

A companion bill introduced in the House, HB 1164, has not been scheduled for a second reading. 

Similar bills introduced in 2020 and 2021 failed to pass out of the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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