More Delays: Fed. Court Sets Far-Off Trial Date for WA Gun Mag Ban

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A schedule for a case challenging a “high capacity” magazine ban in Washington state has been released. It stretches things out to December 2023 at least. Lancer L5 Advanced Warfighter Magazine (L5AWM) AR-15 Magazines. IMG Jim Grant

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington has set Dec. 4, 2023—more than a year from now—as the opening day for what is scheduled as an eight-day bench trial in the Second Amendment Foundation’s challenge of a magazine ban law passed earlier this year in Washington State, Ammoland has learned.

According to the schedule, a pretrial conference will be held on Nov. 20, 2023. The case is known as Sullivan v. Ferguson.

The schedule comes from the office of recently-seated Chief District Judge David G. Estudillo, a Joe Biden appointee who was born and grew up in Washington state.

The law, which took effect July 1, prohibits the manufacture, sale or importation of cartridge magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds. It applies to magazines for any firearm, not just rifles.

Joining SAF in the lawsuit are Rainier Arms, LLC, the Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., a California-based group, and a private citizen, Gabriella Sullivan, for whom the lawsuit is named. 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.

Defendants are Attorney General Bob Ferguson, 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, in their official capacities.

According to the schedule, discovery must be completed by next July 10, and all motions for dismissal must be filed by next Aug. 7.

Why so long? There are various reasons which might be valid. There are already two other cases—one in New Jersey and the other in California—challenging bans on so-called “large capacity” magazines, and either could be decided before the Washington case goes to trial. In late June, after the Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that “means-end scrutiny” cannot be applied to Second Amendment cases, possibly the most important aspect of the 6-3 decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas. It has opened the door for re-examination of cases that failed previously in lower federal courts.

Washington and California are both part of the Ninth Circuit, the largest of all the federal court circuits encompassing western states from Arizona to Alaska and Hawaii, plus Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands. If the Ninth Circuit—considered by many to be the most liberal in the country—now decides the California magazine ban is unconstitutional, as originally decided by the district court, Washington’s ban is also nullified.

It has never been clear why or how lawmakers arbitrarily determined 10 rounds is acceptable for an ammunition magazine but 11 isn’t. What is known is that Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista killer responsible for a 2014 murder spree in California, used only California-compliant 10-round magazines. He stabbed three of his victims and shot three others dead.

When SAF and its partners filed the original lawsuit, Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb noted in a news release, “Many of the most popular handguns and modern semiautomatic rifles come standard with magazines that hold more than ten rounds. 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.”

Ferguson and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee both support the magazine ban, and would also like to ban so-called “assault weapons.”

The lawsuit seeks to strike down the ban on Second and Fourteenth Amendment grounds.

By setting this calendar, Judge Estudillo has actually done SAF a favor of sorts by answering a question so many Evergreen State gun owners have been asking: Has there been any progress in the case? Now those gun owners know why SAF has been unable to answer.

Federal gun rights cases can drag for months, and in this particular case, those months add up to 1½ years, with no guarantee a ruling will come anytime soon after the scheduled trial.

Then, again, with the California magazine ban case already being remanded for reconsideration under the new Bruen guidelines, the Washington dilemma may have already been solved by that time, unless the traditionally liberal Ninth Circuit, possibly faced with having to strike down the California ban, simply drags its feet.


About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman

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Old Gun

A Right delayed is a Right denied. Hopefully the CA case will go faster and make the WA case mute.

DIYinSTL

With any luck this will be quickly resolved in California, SAF et. al. won’t have to litigate this case and can apply the resources elsewhere.

Rob J

The prevarication of many of my legislators, in the face of actual facts, on the legislative floor makes me call into question their logic, if not their sanity. All in the pursuit of “perceived public safety” over insistence on enforcing ACTUAL public safety (eg. laws already on the books, prosecutorial closures, and sentencing adherence). I spent hours on the phone and in email to my state legislators when this bill was originally introduced, only to receive response from less than half despite assurances by subordinates that replies would be made. The distance between the public and their servants has grown… Read more »

Duane

We should know something on the CA. case by the end of the year.

Judge Roger Benitez has given the parties apox. 60 days to file motions.

Given is track record I believe he well act fast.

David in WA

The ink isn’t dry on the magazine ban legislation, and they’re going after “assault weapons” now.

musicman44mag

One bite at a time.

Bigfootbob

I’m not sure I understand why Grays Harbor County Sheriff and County Prosecutor is included. Scott didn’t run for re-election and Svoboda is now a rat judge and the fact that Grays Harbor isn’t a blue county. Because the former prosecutor Svoboda was a dimocRAT the county commissioners, by state law, had to pick a dimocRAT replacement from a list of three provided by the county rat party. The current rat prosecutor is Norma Tilloston. That’s gong to change in the next election when her appointed term comes to a close. It doesn’t really matter who the judge is in… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Bigfootbob
Laddyboy

JUSTICE DELAYED = JUSTICE DEPRIVED!! The court has NO RIGHT to DELAY the proceedings!

musicman44mag

Why so long? There are various reasons which might be valid. There are already two other cases—one in New Jersey and the other in California—challenging bans on so-called “large capacity” magazines, and either could be decided before the Washington case goes to trial. In late June, after the Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that “means-end scrutiny” cannot be applied to Second Amendment cases, possibly the most important aspect of the 6-3 decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas. It has opened the door for re-examination of cases that failed previously in lower federal courts. Oh, another court might… Read more »

loveaduck

There is no legitimate reason for the delay, none.