Southwest Washington legislators say bill banning sale of high capacity magazines jeopardizes public safety, constitutional rights

Rep. Jim Walsh, ranking member on the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, and committee member Rep. Peter Abbarno, issued the following statements on today's committee approval of Senate Bill 5078, which would ban the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds.

The 11-6 committee vote followed partisan lines, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all Republicans voting against it.

Walsh, R-Aberdeen, says the bill puts public safety in harm's way because it removes the ability of people to defend themselves:

“This is a bad bill. It exploits people's emotions, rather than appealing to their reason. It violates the Washington State Constitution by impairing the people's rights to keep and bear firearms. And it puts in place an unenforceable series of restrictions on gun ownership that will limit what law-abiding people can do while offering no practical limit on what felons do.

“Property crimes in Washington state are increasing, violent crimes too. In response to these dangers to public safety, more Washingtonians than ever are buying guns to protect themselves from violence and crime. Senate Bill 5078 infringes on their ability to do that.

“This bill punishes good people. It puts irrational limits on their ability to train and improve their proficiency using firearms. It also weirdly restricts their ability to share firearms with family members and friends. With crime rates rising, this policy makes no sense.

“We need real solutions to society's problems. This bill only makes those problems worse.”

Abbarno, R-Centralia, says legislators should focus their efforts on criminals, rather than penalizing legal gun owners:

“Why are we penalizing responsible gun owners? Senate Bill 5078 infringes on the constitutional rights of citizens and completely ignores the reality that gun violence is being committed by criminals, not law-abiding gun owners. 

“We need to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, empower our law enforcement officers to keep our streets safe, and stop penalizing responsible, law-abiding gun owners who should have every legal right to defend themselves.

“I urge the governor and Washington state's Democratic majorities to center their attention on the real problem: violent criminals. Instead of going after those that already obey the law, how about doing something effective — like empowering law enforcement, judicial officers, and prosecutors to put the real bad guys behind bars. This bill does none of that.”

Senate Bill 5078 now heads to the House Rules Committee, where it awaits being pulled to the House floor for a vote. If signed into law, the bill would also ban magazines for rifles and a number of pistols that can hold more than 10 bullets.

The 2022 legislative session is scheduled to end on March 10.


Washington State House Republican Communications