U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- A billionaire-backed gun prohibition lobbying group based in Seattle has been allowed by a federal judge in Tacoma to join a lawsuit challenging Washington State’s ban on the future sale, manufacture or importation of so-called “large capacity” magazines for rifles and pistols…as a defendant.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility, an anti-gun group responsible for bankrolling gun control initiatives in Washington in 2014 (I-594) and 2018 (I-1639), was allowed to join the lawsuit—filed in June by the Second Amendment Foundation and its partners—by U.S. District Judge David G. Estudillo. He is the recently-seated chief district judge who last month set a trial date for this magazine ban case as Dec. 4, 2023. This stunning date was first revealed by Ammoland News on Sept. 27.
As noted by SAF, the Alliance motion was supported by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and State Patrol Chief John Batiste, who are defendants in the case. The Alliance supported the magazine ban as part of its gun prohibition legislative agenda for 2022, and Ferguson requested the legislation earlier this year.
Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president, made light of the anti-gun group’s eagerness to join the lawsuit as a defendant.
“Apparently, the Alliance is worried Ferguson isn’t capable of defending his own magazine ban in this lawsuit,” Gottlieb said. “Obviously, after the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision last June, the gun ban lobby fears the state may not be able to defend any of its gun laws, including a couple passed by initiative campaigns the Alliance financed.”
The history of this magazine ban dates back several years. Ferguson had requested legislation annually, and this year his efforts were successful, with the State Legislature controlled by a far-left wing of the Democratic party. The anti-gun Democrat Attorney General has also pushed for a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” but that may have been one step too far for his Democrat colleagues this year, due to the elections next month. If they retain control in Olympia, however, such a bill might be filed.
SAF was joined in its federal lawsuit challenging the ban by the California-based Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc., Rainier Arms, LLC and two private citizens, Daniel Martin and Gabriela Sullivan. The case is known as Sullivan v. Ferguson.
The case may be on hold because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision to grant certiorari, vacate lower court rulings upholding certain gun laws, and remand those cases back to the respective circuit courts of appeal for further consideration in line with language in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which did away with the “two-step” approach to Second Amendment cases. Lower courts had been able to treat Second Amendment challenges to local gun control laws differently by essentially inventing a “means-end” level of scrutiny. The 6-3 Bruen ruling, authored by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, rejected that approach, thus opening the door for several gun rights cases to be reviewed.
Two of those cases—from New Jersey (Association of New Jersey Pistol and Rifle Clubs v. Bruck) and California (Duncan v. Bonta)—challenge limits on cartridge magazine capacity. The Washington case may essentially be “on hold” pending outcomes in either or both cases.
“The high court ruling gives further direction to lower federal courts on how they must interpret the Second Amendment,” Gottlieb said in June after the Bruen decision was announced. “Our legal experts are reviewing our other past lawsuits to determine whether (the Bruen) ruling will provide grounds to refile those cases.”
At the time, Gottlieb said the Bruen ruling “sends a strong signal to politicians and lower court judges that the day of trampling on the Second Amendment has come to an end.”
“It should be noted for the record,” Gottlieb observed in June, “that Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined an amicus brief opposing the New York lawsuit while SAF filed a brief supporting the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association’s case. Not only was Ferguson on the losing side, we were on the winning side.”
Another case granted certiorari and remanded is Bianchi v. Frosh, which challenges the ban on semi-auto rifles in the state of Maryland. This case was filed by SAF and its sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, along with other plaintiffs.
“Based on the Supreme Court’s action in both magazine ban cases,” Gottlieb said in reaction to the Alliance’s interest in being in the Washington magazine ban case, “it is clear such restrictive laws might be in serious trouble, which explains why the Alliance is interested. Courts in California have already ruled that state’s magazine ban is unconstitutional, and that position may now stand when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has to reconsider the case under the new guidelines set down in the Bruen ruling.
“If the Alliance wants to hold hands with Ferguson,” Gottlieb chuckled, “that’s their business. Maybe he needs the moral support.”
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