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Upcoming court ruling could open short window for purchase of high-capacity mags

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(The Center Square) – A ruling expected this week in a court case involving Gators Custom Guns in Kelso could mean a chance for Washingtonians to purchase high-capacity magazines, at least for a little while.

On March 11, Cowlitz County Judge Gary said he would issue a written ruling within two weeks in the ongoing case involving the state suing Gators Custom Guns in September, alleging the establishment offered to sell high-capacity magazines 11,408 times since July 2022, when it became illegal under state law to manufacture, distribute, sell or offer for sale gun magazines that hold more than 10 round of ammunition.

The lawsuit asserts the retailer intentionally violated the Consumer Protection Act when it continued to sell high-capacity magazines to the public.

“We are well beyond that time period [two weeks], and obviously, the judge is being very meticulous because it needs to be perfected for appeal as whichever side does not prevail is clearly going to appeal this,” Washington gun law attorney Bill Kirk told The Center Square Wednesday.

Kirk has posted continual updates on the case on his YouTube page.

“I do anticipate a ruling sometime this week, and what would be best for law-abiding gun owners is a ruling sometime Friday, late morning or early afternoon,” he said.

Kirk went to explain why such a ruling might be idea for gun rights supporters.

“Obviously the Attorney General’s Office will stampede this down to Olympia as fast as possible and try to get it in front of the state Supreme Court and ask for a stay of the injunction, lifting the ban, but the soonest they could get that would be Monday with the court maybe hearing it by Wednesday,” he said. “That would allow citizens of Washington state and FFL’s (federal firearms license) dealers who have really been creamed by a lot of this legislation over the last few years, to lawfully sell and purchase high-capacity magazines if the law is enjoined on a statewide level.”

Kirk added, “If the judge issues a statewide injunction effective immediately, that basically puts the law on a big fat pause; it’s as if the laws don’t exist and they cannot be enforced.”

That means the sale, purchase, and importation of magazines above 10 rounds would be completely legal because those laws are no longer in effect, according to Kirk.

The Center Square reached out to Gator Guns in Kelso today for comment on the pending court ruling, but a manager declined to comment other than to say the business would issue a statement on its Facebook page when a ruling comes down and confirmed they may be adjusting store hours to accommodate a potential flurry of activity if the ban on high-capacity magazines is temporarily lifted.

Kirk said if the ban is lifted, he expects the state Supreme Court will grant an emergency stay while the case is appealed, but that still leaves the narrow purchase window open.

“When people can lawfully purchase these magazines, and that window maybe 24, 48, or 72 hours long,” he said.

Big box stores like Cabela’s won’t sell high-capacity magazines during the potential window of a ban being lifted, Kirk said, because doing so would require the approval of its national headquarters.

“I do know other FFLs that have inventory and are preparing for this, but it’s really up to the individual stores to make that call,” he said. “Everybody needs to be ready to go in case it happens.”

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