High-capacity magazine ban found unconstitutional in Washington state

A judge in Washington ruled that the state’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional.

In 2023, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against a gun store for selling the magazines despite the ban. The law banned the sale, import, manufacturing, and distribution of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

Judge Gary Bashor said his ruling was “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” referring to a 2022 United States Supreme Court ruling. That ruling changed how lower courts ruled on gun laws, stating they can no longer consider if laws serve the public interest for things such as public safety.

“There was no appetite to limit gun rights by the Founders. Though the specific technology available today may not have been envisioned, the Founders expected technological advancements,” Bashor wrote. “The result is few, if any, historical analogue laws by which a state can justify a modern firearms regulation.”

Ferguson disagreed with Bashor’s ruling. 

“Every court in Washington and across the country to consider challenges to a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines under the U.S. or Washington Constitution has either rejected that challenge or been overruled,” Ferguson wrote.

However, the law still stands, as the Washington State Attorney General’s Office filed an emergency stay, which was approved by the Washington Supreme Court. Purchasing high-capacity magazines will still be illegal statewide.

“The debatable nature of the factual and legal issues raised in this case, and the public safety issues concerning the proliferation of large capacity magazines,” said Michael Johnston, the Washington Supreme Court commissioner. 


In the ruling, Bashor referenced the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, which left 32 people dead. Bashor contrasted it with the Supreme Court’s expansion of Second Amendment rights the next year.  

“The Washington legislature has found that gun violence and mass shootings are on the increase,” Bashor wrote. “The problem, however, is not an unprecedented societal concern.”

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