U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- As the fight over Oregon’s Measure 114, which includes a ban on so-called “high capacity” magazines, has entered a new stage as the state Supreme Court late Wednesday denied a request by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to intervene with a temporary restraining order, another drama is unfolding over magazines in neighboring Washington.
A consumer protection lawsuit was filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office against Federal Way Discount Guns, alleging that the store and its owner, Mohammed Reza Baghai, illegally sold “high capacity” magazines after a ban took effect in July. Ferguson announced the civil action, noting that the defendants “face a maximum penalty of $7,500 every time the store offered a high-capacity magazine for sale and $7,500 every time it illegally sold a high-capacity magazine,” according to a news release. The lawsuit came after a “statewide sweep” of gun dealers by undercover investigators who “visited 25 firearms retailers” across the Evergreen State between August and November “to confirm that the retailers were complying with the new law by attempting to purchase the unlawful magazines.”
Investigators reportedly found only two stores selling the banned magazines after the law took effect. Federal Way Discount Guns was one of those. The other store so far has not been named. The “sweep” targeted gun dealers in Benton, Kittitas, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, and Yakima counties.
“Our sweep confirmed that the overwhelming majority of gun retailers in Washington are doing the right thing and complying with the law,” Ferguson, a Democrat, said in the news release. “In contrast, Federal Way Discount Guns chose to violate a law that makes our communities safer. We will continue to proactively enforce this law, and take action against anyone who illegally sells high-capacity magazines.”
According to Ferguson’s office, investigators visited the Federal Way store on four different occasions to buy “high-capacity” magazines.
They allegedly “found a wall of dozens of high-capacity magazines openly displayed for sale.” The news release said that during each sale made to investigators, “the sales clerk destroyed the record of the sale or made comments…indicating they knew the sale of the magazines was unlawful.
“The sales clerk then crumpled up the sales receipt that was automatically generated from the cash register and threw it in the garbage,” the news release said.
Washington gun owners reacting on Facebook are largely supporting the store and owner Baghai. The discussion is unfolding at the Sporting Systems page, where owner and Second Amendment activist Dan Mitchell—lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging gun control Initiative 1639—wrote, “This is posted for the ‘shall not be infringed’ crowd, who are justifiably upset but choose not to actual participate in fighting back. Voting. Testifying. Calling legislators. Etc. we have to fight back against these terrible laws, and every gun owner needs to get in the game.”
When it comes to fighting, Mitchell is no slouch. In addition to being the main plaintiff in the I-1639 lawsuit, he has helped raise money for the court fight, been outspoken against restrictive Washington State legislation, and has worked tirelessly to energize gun owners in Southwest Washington.
I-1639 was passed in November 2018. It prohibits young adults from purchasing so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles” and requires training and registration of such guns by adults. It also invented a definition of such firearms that applies to every semi-auto rifle ever manufactured anywhere in the world. As reported here by Ammoland only a few days ago, the case had been languishing at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has vacated a lower court ruling against the plaintiffs, and remanded the case back to the lower court, thanks to language in the Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling.
Washington gun owners have been under siege for the past few years, with Ferguson personally supporting additional gun controls including the magazine ban and proposals to ban “assault weapons.” The magazine law was passed by the Legislature and signed by anti-gun Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this year. Gun owners opposed the legislation, which allows them to retain magazines they already owned, but restricted their use.
Comments on the Sporting Systems Facebook page included these observations:
- “I fully support that store. Bob Ferguson is supporting and enforcing illegal unconstitutional laws. I won’t comply and will do all I can to undermine their evil agenda. This is how we beat these tyrants, mass noncompliance.”
- “Will this give them ‘Standing’ to sue Ferguson for BIG Damages for violating their Constitutional Rights once this law is proven Unconstitutional?”
The federal lawsuit challenging I-1639 was filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association in February 2019.
SAF is also fighting the Washington magazine ban in federal court. There is no small irony that Ferguson is one of the defendants in that case, along with Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste, King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall, Kitsap County Sheriff John Gese, Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, Kitsap County Prosecutor Chad M. Enright and Grays Harbor County Prosecutor Katie Svoboda.
Joining SAF in lawsuit are the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., a California-based group; Rainier Arms, LLC and a private citizen, Gabriella Sullivan. They are represented by attorneys David H. Thompson, Peter A. Patterson and William V. Bergstrom with Cooper & Kirk PLLC in Washington, D.C., Cody J. Wisniewski at the Mountain States Legal Foundation, and locally by Joel Ard at Ard Law Group.
“We’re asking the court to declare Washington’s ban on original capacity magazines to be unconstitutional under the Second and Fourteenth amendments,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We want an injunction against the state because this ban criminalizes something that is common in a majority of states, and also leaves law-abiding Washington citizens more vulnerable to attack by ruthless criminals.
“Many of the most popular handguns and modern semiautomatic rifles come standard with magazines that hold more than ten rounds,” he added. “Such firearms are legally owned by Washington residents. As we note in the lawsuit, there is no reliable proof that restrictions on new manufacturing or sales of such magazines will reduce violent crime. This law unfairly and arbitrarily penalizes honest citizens for crimes they didn’t commit, in the hopes of preventing crimes they wouldn’t dream of committing.”
It would be impossible to estimate the number of rifle and pistol magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds that are now in circulation in Oregon and Washington. A conservative guess would place the number in the hundreds of thousands across the two states, and gun owners on both sides of the Columbia River are rightfully concerned that anti-gunners will continue to push for more restrictions, probably to outlaw those existing magazines current legislation has allowed gun owners to retain, at least for the time being. The gun prohibition movement is in this for the long haul, underscoring gun retailer Mitchell’s observation that “every gun owner needs to get in the game.”
About Dave Workman