Washington State Attorney General’s Office announcement.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that Lakewood-based WGS Guns will pay $15,000 for intentionally violating Washington’s high-capacity magazine sales ban.
This is Ferguson’s second enforcement of the ban. Earlier this month, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Federal Way Discount Guns. That case is ongoing. These enforcement actions are the result of a statewide sweep of gun dealers conducted by investigators in Ferguson’s office.
“Our sweep confirmed that the overwhelming majority of gun retailers in Washington are doing the right thing and complying with the law,” Ferguson said. “We will continue to proactively enforce this law, and take action against anyone who illegally sells high-capacity magazines.”
WGS Guns violated the law approximately two months after the ban took effect, then complied with the law later in the investigation. Ferguson filed an assurance of discontinuance in King County Superior Court that requires WGS Guns to pay $15,000 to the Attorney General’s Office for violating the Consumer Protection Act and attorney’s costs and fees. The maximum penalty for a violation of the Consumer Protection Act is $7,500.
The resolution also requires the store to comply with the law and stop offering high-capacity magazines for sale on its website.
Anyone who suspects a store is selling high-capacity magazines can alert our office by filing a complaint at www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.
WGS illegally sold two high-capacity magazines
Approximately two months after the ban took effect, investigators with the Attorney General’s Office visited the store to purchase a 13-round magazine for a Glock 23 pistol and a 15-round magazine for a Glock 22. The clerk told investigators he “would be ringing these up as something else,” and provided the investigator with a false receipt for 9mm jacketed hollow point ammunition instead.
Despite the clear intention in the first visit, in two subsequent visits, staff declined to sell high-capacity magazines to investigators. The investigators returned to the store two more times. During both additional visits, store staff told investigators that high-capacity magazines were not available for sale. The store did not display any high-capacity magazines on the sales floor during any of the investigators’ visits.
Investigators later attempted to purchase unlawful magazines that WGS Guns displays on its website. The store later explained to investigators these online orders could not be completed and canceled them, because it is illegal to sell a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds in Washington.
Today’s assurance of discontinuance also legally requires the store to stop fulfilling online orders for high-capacity magazines and remove the magazines from its website.
Ferguson’s high-capacity magazine sweep
Attorney General investigators visited 25 firearms retailers across Washington to confirm that the retailers were complying with the new law by attempting to purchase the unlawful magazines. The investigators visited a variety of gun retailers in counties across the state: King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, Yakima, Kittitas, Benton and Spokane.
During this sweep, only two retailers did not comply with the law: Federal Way Discount Guns and WGS Guns.
As of July 2022, it is illegal under Washington state law to manufacture, distribute, sell or offer for sale magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Any violation of the high-capacity magazine ban also constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
The law does not prohibit the possession of high-capacity magazines, instead focusing prospectively on the supply side.
The evidence that this policy saves lives is overwhelming. One 2019 study from the American Journal of Public Health found that states without high-capacity magazine bans have double the amount of high-fatality mass shootings compared to those that do have bans.
Ferguson started pursuing this legislative reform in 2016. On July 30, 2016, a 19-year-old used an assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine to kill three students and seriously wound a fourth at a house party in Mukilteo. In September 2016, Ferguson stood beside parents of shooting victims, legislators, mayors, police chiefs, and representatives of the faith community and vowed to continue proposing legislation to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines every year until it passed.