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This past week, despite the best efforts of an extremely well-motivated pro-2A contingent in Washington State, the legislature rammed through SB 5078, magazine capacity ban, which should reach regime stooge Jay Inslee’s desk any day now. Inslee has stated that he’ll sign it, so unfortunately in a legal sense, it will be codified into law.
So, after July 1st, firearm magazines that hold ten rounds or more will be prohibited for sale in the Evergreen State. That being said, the Washington State (and other) magazine capacity bans can be fought…
However, in order to fight the enemy, one must know the enemy. There’s a few key details that make Washington’s SB5078 especially onerous…
Unfortunately, magazine capacity bans infect a certain minority of states. The usual suspects, also including weird outliers like Vermont, have restrictions on the capacity of firearm magazines sold in the state. To add insult to injury, states like California and New Jersey even moved the needle further left and banned the mere possession of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds. Sure, California had Freedom Week, where their magazine ban was vacated by court order, but an emergency injunction put it back in place pending review and appeal…
Along those lines, Washington State’s bureaucracy has been trying for a long time to emulate their Golden State fellow travelers and get their own ban in place, in no small part due to the amount of Californians who have recently infected the land of grunge and rain.
What makes SB5078 a little different though, is in the details. Washington hasn’t pushed for a ban on possession (yet!) since it saw the blowback in the courts. Instead, they took a convoluted approach, with an unstated goal to ensure the law fails. To wit:
Magazines of 10+ round capacity owned by Washington State residents prior to July 1st, 2022 are still OK to use and own by individual citizens of the state.
However, citizens of Washington State cannot receive magazines of 10+ round capacity after July 1st, 2022 under any circumstances. This even includes loans, gifts, trades and inheritances even between residents of the state. So for example, if I lived in Seattle (yuck) and passed away (from living in Seattle!), I could not bequeath my clutch of PMAG 30s to a relative or friend living in Tacoma. They couldn’t even legally borrow one from me.
Magazines of 10+ rounds cannot be purchased or acquired elsewhere and bought into Washington State after July 1st, 2022. Legally one cannot drive from Washington into Idaho, pick up some PMAGs or Surefeed E2s, and return with them.
Even temporary importation is prohibited. Citizens with reciprocity carry with Washington will have to legally load up their pistols with 10 round magazines when they visit. Competition shooters from out of state will have to abide by the law. Salespeople looking to demo their firearms to dealers and agencies will have to abide. Same for instructors. Even non-Washington State LE may have issues.
Parts are banned as well. A spring for a 30 round PMAG runs afoul of the law, apparently.
Dealers can have banned magazines in inventory but only for e-commerce sales out of state or to government agencies.
There’s no proof of ownership required.
It’s all terribly complicated and there’s many ways around it. The law can be fought in the courts, and on the ground by free citizens in many ways.
Well, before I begin, just a little disclaimer. From where I sit this is a thought exercise. To determine the long-term legality of these actions, ask a competent firearms attorney.
Anyways, the ban can be fought. As of this date, March 12th 2022, it is not in place. Which makes the first return salvo easy…
Buy As Many Standard-Capacity Magazines As You Can
As has been noted, the magazine capacity ban kicks in on July 1st, 2022. Ironically just before Independence Day. Until then, the sale, trade, and loan of magazines with a capacity above 10 rounds is perfectly legal in Washington State. You can venture down to your local gun shop and pick up as many 30-round AR magazines as you can afford. You can order magazines online from retailers like our friends at The Mag Shackand they will ship them to you.
Along those lines, as of this writing, several retailers are prioritizing shipments of magazines to Washington State. All you Second Amendment Radicals in the Evergreen get first crack at inventory, and in some cases, free shipping is offered even.
One thing worth noting is that during California’s Freedom Week, over a million firearm magazines were purchased by Californians, and per the courts, those magazines are legal to possess provided their owners can prove they were purchased during that window. This isn’t a case of the government being nice, it’s a case of the government knowing there’s a legal hole big enough to drive a truck through in this case.
Anyways, it’s about 14 weeks until July 1st. It’s conceivable that millions of standard-capacity magazines could flood Washington State. Companies like Magpul are planning “aidrops” even, where they show up to retailers, and even protests and hand out free magazines.
So yeah, buy or otherwise acquire as many standard-capacity magazines for your ARs, GLOCKs, and so on. Hell, grab a few drum magazines while you are at it.
For quality control purposes and end-user requirements, firearm magazines are often date-coded. Look closely at a PMAG and you’ll see a little clock face with a two-digit year stamped on it somewhere. This isn’t anything nefarious, it’s so Magpul can easily address quality control issues, and also so end users, if they are so inclined, can tell how old a magazine is and whether it needs to have parts swapped or replaced entirely.
Unfortunately this is a bit of an Achillies’ heel for those looking to thumb their nose at Jay Inslee and his hired thugs. If your date-code says 8-22, that means the magazine was made in August 2022 after the ban. If you’re in Washington State, that means you either purchased it from someone or transported it into the state in violation of the law.
However, magazines do take a beating if used properly – i.e. train hard! Things get scratched and scuffed up pretty bad. Kind of hard to tell when a magazine was made at that point.
Also, some magazines aren’t serialized or date coded. Maybe Magpul can do a commemorative run of magazines sans date code. For fun.
In the past few years, 3D printing has come a long way. Once the exclusive provenance of the proverbial “nerds”, cheap 3D printers have become a commodity item, and accompanying software and files making it easy for even a novice to print things up, including firearm components, and yes, magazines. Current materials can produce robust and usable magazines.
You could acquire a 3D printer tomorrow, and start printing firearm magazines galore all the way up until July 1st, 2022. Unless you’re a complete bonehead, your home-printed magazines aren’t date coded, and it’s rather difficult to use technical means to tell when an object was printed. Was it before July 1st, or after? Only the person printing knows.
Get On Board With Fighting The Ban In The Courts
Fighting a law is markedly easier before it takes effect. I’m not a lawyer, but there’s so many vague conditions to this law that it’s entirely possible that it could be struck down or stayed before July 1st, 2022.
Since most of us aren’t attorneys, the best way to fight is to spread the good word on social media, and focus your financial donations and volunteer efforts to your favorite gun rights organizations. If the law is stopped and overturned, it makes the next step that much harder for the opposition.
As I stated earlier, the law has been specifically crafted to fail. Where put in place, magazine capacity bans have had zero effect on the crime rate, and standard capacity magazines made after whenever the ban was enacted in a given state are routinely owned by firearms owners throughout those states. They don’t come out to play, and law enforcement personnel in those jurisdictions aren’t instructed to dedicate their efforts to finding the contraband. It’s done via attrition mainly, where the offending pieces of plastic and metal are found in the course of another investigation.
Which does add fuel to the fire in a way. Since the ban on purchasing and importation is a failure, the government is often pressured by the usual harridans and scolds to “do something”, despite already having done something. This is where possession bans come up, and despite being challenged in court, the opposition pursues them with fervor. Thus, the fight has to begin before they even get to the point of an initial ban. It’s easier to keep something legal than it is to make something legal that is illegal.
Whether it’s a ban on sale/importation or a total possession ban, restricting standard capacity magazines solves nothing. They will be acquired elsewhere or manufactured at home, despite the law, and occasionally used by bad people. Even if an aggressor has only a few ten-round magazines on him, it’s more than enough if and when he strikes a soft target. Very few people are conditioned to respond to a surprise attack, especially if they are unarmed and unfamiliar with guns. A person with bolt-action rifle can cause mayhem at his leisure if the people in the room are unarmed. A few shots and no one left alive is in any condition to fight back.
Thus the magazine capacity ban “fails”, but it wasn’t designed to work. The idea, as cited by Eugene Volokh, is to condition people to accept the idea of restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. A ban here, a restriction there, over the course of decades, and pretty soon, the idea of owning a gun legally becomes problematic. Look at the NFA, for example. A lot of people would absolutely love to own a suppressor, but the wait time, paperwork, and tax turn them off. We’re a “right now” society (if the supply chain issues get worse, oooh boy…) and waiting a year to possess an item you paid a good chunk of change for doesn’t engender good feelings. Most will choose to forgo the pleasure.
The frog gets boiled slowly, and if unchecked, he’s cooked and no one knows he ever existed.
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