OSD 159: How to take an L
On Washington state's magazine ban.
In “OSD 151: Most Likely You Go Your Way (and I’ll Go Mine)”, we made a prediction about 2022:
Whichever direction a state was slightly pointed in the ‘80s, it’s pointed much harder in that direction today. There is a logic that makes this predictable: the bigger the jurisdiction, the harder it is to pass a law. That’s because the level of disagreement will mainly be a function of how many people are involved.
For gun laws, the equilibrium lands somewhere between the local and state levels, depending on the homogeneity of the relevant lawmaking bodies. And you can see that play out as each state fires up its 2022 legislative season.
In the gun-friendly states, permitless (a.k.a. constitutional) carry will continue to be the big story this year. In 2021 alone, 5 states passed permitless carry. In 2022, Alabama, Georgia, and Indiana are poised to join the wave.
As for gun-unfriendly jurisdictions, Denver is on its way to criminalizing homemade firearms, and the same idea is going to see a push in Maryland. The governor of New Jersey aims to further ratchet down that state’s various bans and permitting obstacle courses.
A commenter wisely pointed out that Washington state is an exception to that rule, and this week he was proven right. Washington has had shall-issue carry permits for decades, well ahead of most states in the country. And while it has never quite been a bastion of gun rights, it historically avoided most of the restrictions you’d find in, say, the eight states with AWBs. And as @2Aupdates pointed out this morning: “It seems like a lifetime ago, but in 2014, a bill in Washington to legalize short-barreled rifles passed the Senate 47-0, passed the House 95-3, and was signed into law by Governor Inslee.”
That changed in 2018 with the passage of I-1639. And this past week it changed further, when the Washington legislature passed a bill banning the manufacture, importation, distribution, selling, and offering for sale of magazines that hold more than ten rounds. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Inslee, who will sign it into law.
We always bring the optimism in this newsletter, but we have to be clear-eyed about facts. And the fact is that this is a big L for gun rights in Washington. State attorney general Bob Ferguson has been trying to pass this law every year since 2016, and got it done on his sixth attempt. Laws are downstream of culture, so while the bill’s passage is certainly partly due to the tenacity and aggressive organization of the bill’s advocates, the bottom line is it means that the cultural soil for gun rights in Washington isn’t fertile enough today.
A few things are on the horizon to turn that around.
First, the community is organizing to get millions of magazines into Washington before the ban becomes effective on July 1. The law grandfathers magazines acquired pre-ban, so getting the numbers up now will buy time for longer-term efforts to work while keeping standard-cap mags a ubiquitous sight in the meantime.
The California Rifle & Pistol Association’s Chuck Michel estimated that California gun owners bought one million standard-cap magazines during Freedom Week. And that only lasted six days. There are sixteen weeks between now and July 1. Now, Washington’s population is just a fifth of California’s. But if companies can get magazines to Washington gun owners at the same per-capita rate we saw during Freedom Week, that’ll be 3.6 million additional magazines into the state by July 1.
Second, the Supreme Court’s ruling in NYSRPA v. Bruen is probably going to come out in April. That case is about carry permits, and won’t have any direct effect on Washington’s law. But whatever the ruling, it’ll be ~100+ fresh pages of the justices writing squarely about the Second Amendment. That will fuel an entire new wave of 2A lawsuits, in addition to those already working their way up the chain. You can be sure that Washington’s law will be a prime target of those suits.
Lastly, as ever, the project continues to keep gun rights’ popularity growing. Washington is a setback, no question. But beware of reading a local minimum as a trend — the overall trend is firmly in the other direction. Gun rights have been getting increasingly popular for 25+ years, and contrary to what most people expect, that trend is especially strong among young people. The advocates for Washington’s magazine ban got unlimited bites at the apple. Gun rights advocates get unlimited bites too. So the answer after a loss is the same as after a win: keep growing the community.
This week’s links
Breakdown from the folks at T.Rex Arms.
The crux of their argument is that by law, any item intended to be part of a silencer is itself a silencer, and that therefore a metal tube is a silencer if it is intended to eventually be made into a silencer.
The Dadaism of “cutting pipe is a felony depending on what’s in your heart when you cut it” is just 🤌.
Don’t know much about this group, but the statement is impressively direct. Please reach out to us if you have insights into how much weight NTOA’s opinions carry within law enforcement.
Really useful insights from Becky Yackley, who we’re friends with and fans of, and is usually out in front when it comes to introducing women to firearms.
In San Jose, city leaders say gun liability insurance will work like auto insurance by incentivizing safe behavior through lower premiums for responsible gun owners. They also claim that requiring insurance will offset the cost of the city’s gun violence to taxpayers, which was recently estimated at nearly $40 million a year. “We believe we can better, more equitably distribute that cost and reduce the harm from guns,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo, who first proposed the insurance measure after a series of mass shootings in 2019.
But as we pored over the particulars of San Jose’s ordinance and interviewed insurance experts, we found that the plan may end up not being as effective as proponents have advertised.
The concealed carry wave continues apace
Rob Romano @2AupdatesNEW: Ohio Legislature passes constitutional carry bill, sending it to Governor DeWine
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