Senate votes to ban high-capacity magazines

By Azeb Tuji

WNPA News Service

In an effort to tackle gun violence and strengthen public safety, the state Senate passed legislation Feb. 9 that bans the sale of high-capacity magazines – anything more than 10 rounds – but doesn’t prohibit the use of high-capacity firearms already in possession.

“High-capacity magazines make it easy for shooters to inflict maximum damage by allowing more shots to be fired without needing to pause to reload. Because of this we see these accessories favored by mass shooters,” said Sen. Marko Liias D-Everett, prime sponsor of the legislation.

Liias said an analysis by Boston University’s Michael Siegal showed the single best predictor of mass shooting rates is whether a state allows for the sale of high-capacity magazine weapons. He said in the past 50 years large-capacity magazines have been used in about 75 percent of gun massacres with 10 or more deaths, and 100 percent of shootings with more than 20 deaths.

The bill was approved by the Senate on a party line vote, with all Republicans voting no.

“This is a serious bill that will jeopardize the safety of Washingtonians,” said Sen. Phil Fortunato R-Auburn. “This is not about providing safety for children. This is putting in jeopardy the lives of law-abiding citizens, especially women.”

Those opposed questioned the constitutionality of the bill.

“Constitutionally, it’s in violation of the 2nd Amendment that we all swore an oath to, and it’s a violation of the state constitution,” said Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley. “It’s not the size of a magazine or the firearm, it’s how it’s used, and there’s a clear distinction there.”

But Democrats said if the bill makes a shooter pause to reload, it could save lives.

“When I look into the eyes of those parents who lost their children in these types of events, there is something empty there. There’s something vacant that I don’t think any of us should have to experience,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle.

The bill now moves to the House for hearings.