OLYMPIA — A sharply divided state Senate has approved a bill banning the manufacture, distribution and sale of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The passage of Senate Bill 5078 late Wednesday marks the first time a ban of high-capacity ammunition magazines cleared the floor of either legislative chamber.
Majority Democrats passed the bill on a 28-20 vote. One Democrat and 19 Republicans opposed it. It now goes to the House, where Democrats also hold a majority.
“My community has seen firsthand the devastating impact that gun violence can have on families,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, the bill’s prime sponsor.
He was referring to a 2016 shooting in Mukilteo, where an armed young man killed three people and wounded a fourth before running out of bullets.
“We need to act now to protect residents across the state from unnecessary harm, and limiting the capacity of mass shooters to inflict more damage on innocent lives is an important measure for our public safety,” Liias said.
If the bill passes the House and becomes law, the ban would limit magazines for rifles that hold 20 or 30 rounds and a host of semiautomatic pistols, which often carry more than 10 rounds, according to The Seattle Times.
For years, restrictions on firearm magazines have been a top priority for many Democrats and advocates of stricter gun regulations. Conservatives and gun rights advocates have meanwhile assailed such laws as not effective and an infringement on the Second Amendment.
Today the Senate took a historic step and passed #SB5078 to limit the sale of high-capacity magazines. My community has experienced the tragedy of gun violence firsthand, and it's long overdue that we pass this legislation to protect more residents from mass shootings. #WaLeg pic.twitter.com/VWJ68E3z3x
— Sen. Marko Liias (@SenMarkoLiias) February 10, 2022
This is the sixth session that Democratic state Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested the legislation.
“The Legislature put public safety above the interest of the gun lobby,” Ferguson said in a statement. “This historic vote represents an important step toward combating mass shootings.”
Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Cornell called the vote “historic.”
“It was a monumental vote by the Senate to do the right thing,” he said. “It is time for the House to stop talking and start doing something.”
While Democrats enjoy a comfortable majority in the House, it remains unclear if they will push the proposal through before the session ends March 10.
House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, speaking to reporters hours before the Senate acted Wednesday, didn’t commit to it receiving a vote.
It could easily happen, she said, as her caucus has backed many gun safety measures through the years.
The House nearly acted in 2020. A bill outlawing high-capacity magazines was queued up for a vote but Democratic leaders backed off when Republican lawmakers dropped more than 120 amendments to it.