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Ban on sale of high-capacity magazines passes state House, moves to Gov. Inslee's desk

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

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state House passed a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines Friday night. 

The bill passed 55 to 42. It will now move to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk, who has previously said he would sign it.

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

A high-capacity magazine is defined 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. 

The bill does not criminalize the possession of high-capacity magazines but instead focuses on the suppliers. Violating the law could result in a gross misdemeanor.

The high-capacity magazine ban has been proposed in the state legislature several times but failed to pass. The bill was re-introduced at the request of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who first introduced the bill in 2016.

Ferguson released a statement on Twitter Friday night, saying "Today is the fulfillment of years of hard work from so many. More than five years ago, I stood with the parents of shooting victims, legislators, mayors, police chiefs and representatives from faith communities to say enough is enough and proposed banning the sale of high capacity magazines in Washington state."

"Today our Legislature chose public safety over the gun lobby, and I am deeply appreciative of their service. This policy will save lives and make our communities safer from gun violence," he said.

KING 5 spoke with Wade Gaughran, the owner of Wade's Eastside Gun Shop in Bellevue who isn't convinced this bill will make a true difference. 

"There's no way that an intelligent person is going to look at this law and see that it would stop or limit or change the of any kind of mass shooting," said Gaughran. 

Gaughran also said the bill could have a negative impact on the gun selling industry as a whole in the long term. 

"It will probably be really great for a few months, people are going to scramble and buy magazines and buy firearms and get ahead of the game, so it would be good for a while," said Gaughran. "But it's probably going to crush the gun business for quite a while."

Nine other states restrict the sale of high-capacity magazines.

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.

Licensed arms manufacturers and dealers selling to the armed forces or law enforcement agencies have a limited exemption to the bill.

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