Sheriffs take aim at high-capacity magazine ban | Washington

Second Amendment

(The Center Square) – Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told legislators Wednesday that there was no evidence that banning the sale of high-capacity firearm magazines deterred violence and that the ban was likely to be found unconstitutional.

“There is no evidence that this type of ban is going to decrease violence in Washington, none whatsoever,” said Knezovich.

He was addressing the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee that is reviewing Senate Bill 5078, which passed in that chamber by a 28-20 vote last week.

Gun control advocate are claiming a victory because this is the first time a limit on firearm magazine capacity has made it through a chamber. The bill would ban the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Senator Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, sponsored the bill at the state’s attorney general’s request.

“The data are clear. States that have limited the sale of high-capacity magazines to 10 rounds have achieved significant improvements in public safety,” Liias told reporters.

Before the vote, Liias referenced a mass shooting in Mukilteo back in 2016, in which three people were killed.

“The only reason other young people were able to get to safety that night was because the mass shooter needed to reload his weapon,” he said.

The bill would ban the sale of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

SB 5078 is getting pushback, particularly from law enforcement, the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association.

Knezovich’s testimony followed that of Margaret Heldring of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, who said “such weapons” belonged in the military and law enforcement but “they have no place in civilian life.”

Knezovich disagreed with that assertion as well as others made by supporters of the bill. He said it was “not correct” to blame mass shootings on high-capacity magazines. He said shotguns with a single slug had been used to carry out many of these shootings.

“In Russia, 19 people were killed with a shotgun,” he said. “The magazine capacity does not deter the amount of damage that can be inflicted.”

Fentanyl was flowing over the southern border, he said, and responsible for the deaths of more children than guns, yet there was not as much focus on that threat to society.

“If we think we are going to get ourselves out of this problem by banning magazines, you’re wrong,” he said. “The way we get ourselves out of this problem is to enforce our laws and make it painful to commit gun crimes.”

The comments made by Knezovich were echoed this week by other sheriffs in Eastern Washington. Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke and Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer called SB 5078 “ridiculous” and said it would not deter criminals any more than past gun control measures had done.

“All they are doing is taking something away from law-abiding citizens,” said Manke.

“What do-gooders forget is that criminals don’t follow the law,” said Songer.

Even if higher capacity magazines are banned, Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond said it takes only seconds for someone knowledgeable about firearms to trade out a magazine.

“This is not going to save anybody,” he said.

The sheriffs believe the “anti-gun crowd” knows that they can’t openly confiscate guns, so they are slowly stripping away rights, and SB 5078 is just another step in that direction.

Manke, Songer and Raymond were among 22 sheriffs in Washington who refused to enforce the gun control laws brought by passage of Initiative 1639 in 2018. The measure that changed a number of gun ownership rules was approved by a strong margin on the west side of the state and soundly rejected by all but two east side counties.

“At the end of the day, the proponents of these laws get a feel good, but they don’t work. This is just stupid,” said Raymond, who has seen many changes during 40 years in law enforcement, but is most concerned about the push in recent years to remove gun rights from people who are committing no crimes.  

“I’m not going to go out of my way to find out how many bullets you have in your magazine,” he said.

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