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WA Supreme Court to hear arguments next week in challenge to magazine capacity cap

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(The Center Square) – The owner of the Kelso gun shop behind the legal challenge to the state’s ban on “high-capacity” magazines says business was brisk for a short time on Monday.

They’re usually closed on Mondays, but Wally Wentz, owner of Gator’s Customs Guns opened shortly after 3pm when a judge in Cowlitz County ruled the magazine ban unconstitutional.

Judge Gary Bashor’s written ruling said the ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds violates both the Washington state and U.S. constitutions.

He issued an immediate injunction to stop the state from enforcing the ban, and that allowed stores like Gator’s to open and sell for a short time.

Little did they know how short that window would be.

“I was awoken by my counselor from a nap and I’m 20 minutes from town,” Wentz said.

“In 11-minutes, I was with my wife headed for the store and we only had a limited window, we knew that.”

Wentz is referring to the fact Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson had already indicated his office would ask the State Supreme Court to issue a stay of the judge’s decision on appeal.

“We thought we could work from then until maybe 8pm and start again at 8am the next morning until the state got their appeal filed and ratified,” said Wentz.

“We put the blast out on Facebook and before we could even get things out of storage, they were here, and they were swarming the store. It was 50 people we were trying to help at a time for those 88-minutes.”

Wentz told The Center Square, “I don’t know what we sold quantity-wise, but it was a lot, and it was all magazines.”

“I just told customers I don’t know what the limits are on your gold cards, but make yourself happy.”

Asked about inventory and if the store was stocked up for the event, Wentz said he stays up on inventory as much as possible.

“I’ve always done that for the 13 years this store has been in business.”

Wentz says the plan from his attorney was to call him as soon as the stay was issued, but that call came way sooner than anyone expected.

“This is as crooked as a dogs’ hind leg. They’ve had diarrhea and gone slower to the bathroom so I don’t know how this can actually happen in that amount of time.”

“It had to be a new record, that’s all I can say,” said Wentz in reference to the rapid move by state’s highest court to issue a stay.

Before that word came, things were hopping in the store.

“My wife was at the entrance, just handing out empty bags so people could just go shop, because the magazines are just in crates and barrels and boxes labeled with prices and they filled their bags and then there was ten people in every line to buy em.”

“It was a real thing to see the customers attitudes for sure because they left work early, they probably broke the speed limit to get here knowing that the clock was running and for them all to get here and say ‘thank you’ with a high degree of etiquette was great,” said Wentz.

How much did the store sell?

“It was substantial, and the people were opining and being grateful with their billfolds, I’ll leave it at that.”

When Wentz’s attorney called back to say the State Supreme Court had issued a stay, meaning the ban was again in effect, Gator’s had to give the bad news to all the people just arriving.

“What I did was close the store. The people that were in the gate and transactions that were in process they were good. I put one of my sons out on the gate and I said you’re letting people out, nobody in and they continued to stack up like salmon in the spring run but at that point I couldn’t take any more customers.”

Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office emailed a statement to The Center Square when asked about the quickly issued stay from the Supreme Court.

“We did advise the Washington State Supreme Court, and opposing counsel in the case, of our intention to seek emergency relief in the event of a judgment that would impact the state law. However, whether and when to grant emergency relief is entirely up to the court. We view the decision coming as quickly as it did as a sign that the court understands the significance of the issues and the strength of our case.”

Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation issued a statement following the flurry of action in the case.

“Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is playing fast and loose with the facts when he claims every court across the country has ‘either rejected or overturned’ legal challenges against magazine bans.”

“A federal court in California declared that state’s magazine ban to be unconstitutional,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.

That ruling was stayed, and the order has been appealed to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, but it has yet to be overruled. Likewise, he noted, Oregon Measure 114—a gun control law passed by voters two years ago, which contained a magazine ban—was also declared unconstitutional by a circuit court judge. That ruling has been appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, but Gottlieb said the judge’s decision has also not been overruled.

Next phase in the case is coming quickly.

“It isn’t gonna take long as we’re already scheduled for oral arguments on April 17 at 330 in the afternoon, with briefings due from my counsel to the court by the twelfth.”

The AG’s office says the arguments are solely about the emergency stay of the ban, not the ban itself.

Asked how he thinks those arguments will go given the left-leaning makeup of the court, Wentz said, “It’s gonna smell like a bread bag full of s— if they try and p— on my shoes and I’m sure there is gonna be an uproar and I’m not really sure how really big an uproar they are really willing to go down with the ship. At some point they’ve got to smell the winds.”

“If they’ll try what they did Monday for just filing something, what are they capable of.”

Wentz says he’s been aware for 7-months now when the AG filed the first case against him this was going to be a long fight.

“I said ‘what are you waiting for,’ since this is the only way this is going to get fixed.”

Wentz says he’s ready should the case go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’ve got the cutest little 6 year old granddaughter you’ve ever seen and if I don’t do this, who’s gonna?”

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