March 5, 2022 Press Releases

Washington State Legislature Passes ESSB 5078 to Restrict High-Capacity Magazines

Alliance for Gun Responsibility celebrates this lifesaving action, years in the making

OLYMPIA, WA – Today, the Washington State House approved 55-42 ESSB 5078 to restrict high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias (D-21), will now head to Governor Inslee’s desk.  

“This is a remarkable win for the people of Washington,” said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “For the last six years, gun violence survivors, advocates, and experts who have experienced the devastation of high-capacity magazines firsthand have courageously shared their experience with lawmakers and tirelessly fought for this policy. We owe this victory to them. We are also grateful for the leadership and persistence of the legislators who worked alongside us to make this progress possible. There is no doubt that this law will save lives.” 

“It is long overdue that our state act to reduce the threat of mass shootings in our communities,” said Sen. Liias. “My community experienced the tragedy of gun violence in 2016 when three young lives were lost in a preventable tragedy. By restricting the sale of high-capacity magazines, the Legislature finally took action to protect families across Washington from experiencing that harm. It’s a commonsense policy that will save lives, and I am grateful for all of the years of advocacy that led to its passage.”

“In our state, Mukilteo and Burlington have been traumatized by shootings involving high-capacity magazines,” said Rep. Valdez. “And we all know the far too many incidents that have occurred in other parts of our country. These magazines make mass shootings easier and fuel the tragic shootings that happen every day in our communities. I have been fighting for this policy for years and am proud to have been the State House lead. It is long overdue that this historic and life-saving legislation is finally going to get to the Governor’s desk.”

High-capacity magazines, which hold more than 10 rounds, make shootings deadlier by allowing shooters to fire more rounds quickly without having to reload. Because of this, they are favored by mass shooters. They have been used in three-quarters of gun massacres with 10 or more deaths and in all gun massacres with 20 or more deaths over the last 50 years. All six of the deadliest mass shootings in the last decade—Las Vegas, Orlando, Newtown, Sutherland Springs, El Paso, and Parkland—have involved these magazines. In Washington, the Mukilteo, Burlington, and Cafe Racer shootings all involved high-capacity magazines.

ESSB 5078 targets the supply of these extraordinarily deadly magazines by prohibiting their manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale. It does not prohibit possession of high-capacity magazines. And it provides limited exemptions allowing licensed firearms manufacturers and dealers to sell high-capacity magazines to the military and law enforcement agencies or out-of-state customers. 

Currently, nine states have restrictions on high-capacity magazines. All seven federal courts of appeals that have considered this issue have concluded that restrictions on the sale of high-capacity magazines are constitutional. Most recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law in November 2021.

The Alliance’s full 2022 Agenda is here, and a fact sheet on gun violence in Washington is here