A statewide prohibition on high-capacity magazines will remain in place after a Thursday ruling from the Washington Supreme Court Commissioner.

Commissioner Michael E. Johnston issued the decision in response to a lower court's ruling earlier this month. On April 8, the high-capacity magazine ban was deemed unconstitutional by Judge Gary Bashor of Cowlitz County Superior Court in Southwest Washington.

Bashor's ruling is under appeal. Meanwhile a stay of proceedings, filed by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, will remain in effect, per Johnston's decision on Thursday.

The ongoing legal entanglement was precipitated by a dispute between Ferguson and Gator's Custom Guns.

A more stringent law regulating high-capacity magazines in Washington became effective July 1, 2022. This law prohibits the sale, distribution, manufacture or import of magazines containing more than 10 rounds of ammunition. (Mere possession is not, however, a criminal offense.)

Gator's Custom Guns, a nondescript gun shop in Cowlitz County, is accused of peddling high-capacity magazines in violation of said law. Ferguson filed a consumer protection suit in September 2023.

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The shop "intentionally built a retail stockpile that exceeds anything my office has seen since the ban went into effect," Ferguson wrote at the time. He prefaced this by acknowledging that most gun retailers in the state have been abundantly compliant.

According to Everytown, a gun safety nonprofit founded by billionaire philanthropist and erstwhile presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg, high-capacity magazines are uniquely perilous. Shootings are exponentially more likely to cause grievous injury, or even death, when high-capacity magazines are involved, says Everytown.

Washington is one of 13 states to have banned or restricted magazine sales.

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Gallery Credit: Nick Northern

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