Legislation restricting sale of high-capacity firearm magazines headed to governor’s desk for signature

Legislation to restrict the sale of high-capacity firearm magazines was approved by the Washington House of Representatives on a 55-42 vote Friday.

Senate Bill 5078, sponsored by 21st District State Sen. Marko Liias, prohibits the manufacture, sale, import or transfer of large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The approved legislation does not ban the current possession of a high-capacity magazine.

“Enough families have experienced the tragedy of gun violence in our state,” Liias said in a news release announcing the bill’s passage. “It is long overdue that we step up to protect Washingtonians from mass shootings. The Legislature took that step today by voting to limit high-capacity magazines, and our communities will be safer for it. This is a common-sense policy that will save lives, and I am grateful for all of the years of advocacy that led to its passage.”

“In our state, Mukilteo and Burlington have been traumatized by shootings involving high-capacity magazines. And we all know the far too many incidents that have occurred in other parts of our country,” said Rep. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle), who sponsored the House version of the legislation. “These magazines make mass shootings easier and fuel the tragic shootings that happen every day in our communities. I have been fighting for this policy for years and am proud to have been the House lead. It is long overdue that this historic and life-saving legislation is finally going to get to the governor’s desk.”

Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell, who prosecuted the gunman convicted of using a semi-automatic rifle to kill three young people and injure a fourth during a Mukilteo house party in 2016, said “the historic passage of ESSB 5078 is a ringing triumph for political courage and a monumental victory for community safety over the enduring calamity of preventable gun violence. While no act of legislative grace will ever bring back to life Anna, Jake, and Jordan or fully restore the well-being of those directly impacted by a gunman’s cunning madness on that summer night in Mukilteo in July of 2016, the bill’s passage gives us hope for a safer community. And in doing so, honors the lives of Anna, Jake, and Jordan and perhaps, in some small but important way, eases the abiding pain for the living from the indescribable terror on that day.

“To those brave legislators in the House and Senate who voted for the bill, including those in the Snohomish County delegation, thank you for your courage, persistence, and common sense,” Cornell added. “And to the bill’s sponsor, 21st LD Senator Marko Liias, bravo!”

The legislation was introduced at the request of the Washington State Attorney General. Nine states already restrict magazine capacity, and six of those states have a lower rate of gun violence than Washington, according to the state attorney general’s office. Data shows that the sale of high-capacity magazines is the single best predictor of mass shooting rates in a state.

After passing both chambers of the Legislature, the bill will now head to Gov. Inslee for approval. The 2022 session is scheduled to adjourn on March 10.

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