THECENTERSQUARE.COM January 26, 2021 – As guns fly off store shelves around the U.S., Washington state lawmakers are setting their sights on banning high-capacity magazines following a year of surging gun violence.
The Gun Violence Archive, which counts mass shooting deaths, reported 578 mass shootings of four or more victims between Jan. 1 and Nov. 26 of 2020—or 28% more than the 417 mass shootings reported in 2019. The Brookings Institution estimates some three million more guns were sold than normal between March and June, bringing national gun sales to an all-time high as mass protests against police brutality began around the country.
KUOW reports that in Seattle alone, some 9,426 background checks for gun purchases were processed or 55% over the city’s annual average.
Sponsored by Washington Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, Senate Bill 5078 builds on efforts in the state legislature to slap stricter limits on ammunition sales. Gun control advocates say they could save lives in a mass shooting.
“People served best by high-capacity magazines are mass shooters,” said Emily Cantrell, a survivor of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting.
“The Second Amendment allows us the right to bear arms, but freedoms and rights come with responsibilities. And the right to own a gun does not give you the right to all the ammunition in the world.”
The bill bans high-capacity magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds of ammunition and includes fines up to $5,000 for violators. Those bought on or before the bill’s passage would be exempt along with any hand-me-downs a gun owner receives after its passage.
In recent years, Washington has seen a number of tougher gun laws, from setting the age of gun ownership at 21 to requiring gun sellers to report sales to the state and law enforcement.
Guns are a common sight at protests around the open-carry state, a reality that’s put a few Washington lawmakers on edge amid growing political violence.
To date, nine states and Washington, D.C. have banned or limited high-capacity magazines capable of carrying more than 10 or 15 rounds of ammunition.
Robin Ball, who runs Sharpshooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Spokane, told state lawmakers on Monday that stricter gun laws would push gun owners out of Washington at the expense of local businesses like her own.
“Customers will cross state boards to purchase what you are proposing to restrict,” Ball said. “In this climate of COVID and the damages faced by business in the state, I would hope your focus would be on supporting businesses that continue to pay state and local taxes for the goods our communities and not a bill that will not impact community safety.”
One study published in the American Journal of Public Health reported high-capacity magazines reduced mass shooting deaths by about 62% based on 69 incidents over 28 years. Its authors acknowledged their data was too limited to offer firmer conclusions.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association which tracks gun sales and industry trends, reported earlier this month that 2020 saw a record 21 million background checks related to gun sales nationwide.
Those numbers top 2016’s record of 15.7 million with 40% of sales coming from some 8.4 million first-time buyers. Of those first-time buyers, 40% were women.
Testifying against the bill on Monday was Curtis Bingham, a gun rights advocate with the Washington Civil Rights Association, who argued it would hurt women who look to guns for self-defense.
“Consider if you will for a moment a woman walking alone in downtown Seattle from her office to her car,” Bingham said. “With a magazine capacity of 10 rounds, how will she defend her life against two, three, or more violent criminals? When she’s struggling with one hand to hold off her attacker, she can’t reload her 10-round magazine because reloading requires two hands.” [full source article]