— With a newfound majority in the Washington Senate, state Democrats
have found an early target in firearm regulation as the 2018 legislative
session gets set to begin.
Senate Bill 6049 would regulate the
ownership and manufacturing of large capacity magazines and make them
all but illegal in most cases. “Large capacity” refers to any magazine
that can hold more than 10 rounds.
The bill was requested by state
Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who cited a motivation in mass shootings
across the country, including a 2016 shooting at a house party in
Mukilteo in which three were killed and one was injured.
was introduced by Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, and is sponsored by
three other democratic senators: Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond; Jeannie
Darneille, D-Tacoma; and Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle.
eight states and the District of Columbia have introduced some kind of
restriction on large capacity magazines. In Colorado and New Jersey, the
limit is 15 rounds, and in Hawaii the ban pertains only to handguns.
magazines were previously banned on a federal level under the 1994
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which also banned
semi-automatic weapons before expiring in 2004.
Pedersen said he
feels confident the bill will pass, and that the key is to receive
support from rural Democrats and more moderate Republicans. The senator
added that he has received at least some vocal support from both
“We’ve obviously had a series of high-profile shootings across the country,” Pedersen said. “This is a small step to take.”
Dave Workman, senior editor of TheGunMag, said he doesn’t find such a
ban necessary, arguing that large capacity magazines haven’t proven to
be a problem. Workman said he expects a flurry of opposition from gun
owners across the state, many of whom own firearms that would be
affected by the ban.
Workman’s sentiments were echoed by Joe
Waldron, legislative chairman of the Washington State Rifle and Pistol
Association, who said his organization is firmly against the potential
Waldron said the bill emphasizes the role of guns,
while legislators should be taking a look at potential societal problems
that lead to mass shootings.
The legislative chairman pointed out
that many pistols carry large capacity magazines, but the bill doesn’t
differentiate between handguns and the assault weapons Waldron believes
the bill is targeting.
Waldron called the bill “meaningless” and
“unenforceable,” and said it would force Washington citizens to give up
private property that is arguably protected by the Second Amendment.
bottom line is we oppose the bill because it’s a waste of time,”
Waldron said. “They focus on the inanimate object; what they need to be
focusing on is the behavior.”
The senate plans to hear SB 6049 on Jan. 15.
story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State
Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the
Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.