WA ban on high-capacity gun magazines will stay in place as court battle continues

By: Jeanie Lindsay, Northwest News Network

The sale of high-capacity gun magazines will remain illegal in Washington state while a court fight over the ban continues to play out. That’s according to a decision issued Thursday by Washington state Supreme Court Commissioner Michael Johnston.

The ruling stems from a 2022 state law banning the sale, import or distribution of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Last fall, Washington’s attorney general sued Gator’s Custom Guns, a dealer in Cowlitz County, for what it calls “egregious” violations of the law. The shop allegedly continued to sell high-capacity magazines more than a year after the ban went into effect.

But the gun dealer is pushing back, and says the law is unconstitutional. Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Gary Bashor agreed with the firearms dealer earlier this month, and struck down the law. Judge Bashor wrote in his opinion that the law violated both the federal and Washington constitutions.

Wally Wentz, the owner of Gator’s, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that decision caused “mayhem” in his store as people rushed to buy hundreds of those magazines.

“My wife was handing out bags to people as they came in the door,” Wentz told OPB.

But it didn’t last long. The state filed an emergency motion to put the law back into place as it appeals that decision.

Hours after Judge Bashor’s ruling, the state Supreme Court issued a temporary stay until the commissioner could take a closer look and hear arguments from both sides.

“The idea that I could lift the stay and something awful happens with [a large capacity magazine] that would not have been obtained but for that decision keeps me awake at night,” Johnston wrote in his decision Thursday.

Now, the law will remain in place while the state appeals the lower court’s decision, which could go to an appeals court or land in front of the state Supreme Court.