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Washington State News

Court Blocks Federal Way Gun Retailer from Unlawfully Selling High-Capacity magazines

Photo courtesy of the Washington State Attorney General's Office

SEATTLE — Friday, a King County judge ordered a Federal Way gun shop to stop selling unlawful high-capacity magazines. Attorney General Bob Ferguson proposed, and the Legislature adopted, a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines last year.

King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott granted Ferguson’s motion for preliminary injunction against Federal Way Discount Guns and its owner, Mohammed Reza Baghai. In issuing the preliminary injunction, the court found that Ferguson is likely to prevail in his case against the store.

Ferguson filed a lawsuit in December against Baghai and his store for illegally selling high-capacity magazines despite the ban on such products in our state. The defendants face a maximum penalty of $7,500 every time the store offered a high-capacity magazine for sale and $7,500 every time it illegally sold a high-capacity magazine.

This is Ferguson’s first enforcement of the high-capacity magazine sales ban. A second case resulted in Lakewood-based WGS Guns paying penalties.

“The overwhelming majority of gun retailers in Washington are doing the right thing and complying with the law,” Ferguson said. “Federal Way Discount Guns is choosing to violate the law and fight our case. Today’s court order makes it clear that following the law is not optional.”

Anyone who suspects a store is selling high-capacity magazines can alert our office by filing a complaint at www.atg.wa.gov/file-complaint.

AGO investigators purchased high-capacity magazines over the counter

The Attorney General’s investigators visited a variety of gun retailers in counties across the state: King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, Yakima, Kittitas, Benton and Spokane.

From August to November of this year, investigators visited Federal Way Discount Guns four separate times to purchase high-capacity magazines. The investigators found a wall of dozens of high-capacity magazines openly displayed for sale. During each sale made to Attorney General’s staff, the sales clerk destroyed the record of the sale or made comments to the investigator indicating they knew the sale of the magazines was unlawful. In one instance, a sales clerk told an investigator that “it’s the nature of the beast” but that he couldn’t provide a receipt because the magazines held “more than 10 rounds.” The sales clerk then crumpled up the sales receipt that was automatically generated from the cash register and threw it in the garbage.

During another visit, the store’s owner, Baghai, personally sold a 30-round magazine for an AR-15 style rifle and a 33-round magazine for a Glock 17 pistol to the investigator and threw the store copy of the receipt into the garbage.

Investigators were able to purchase eight high-capacity magazines from the store over the course of these visits:

  • A 50-round drum magazine
  • two 30-round magazines for an AR-15 style rifle
  • a 33-round magazine for a Glock 17 pistol
  • a 22-round Glock pistol magazine
  • a 19-round magazine for a Glock 19 pistol
  • a 17-round magazine for a Glock 17 pistol
  • a 17-round magazine for a Glock 19 pistol
  • a 17-round magazine for a Sig Sauer P229 pistol

As of July 2022, it is illegal under Washington state law to manufacture, distribute, sell or offer for sale magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Any violation of the high-capacity magazine ban also constitutes a violation of the Consumer Protection Act.

Ferguson’s lawsuit against Federal Way Discount Guns and its owner asserts the company violated the Consumer Protection Act when it sold these magazines, knowing that the sales were unlawful. The lawsuit asks the court to:

  • Permanently block the store from selling high-capacity magazines
  • Require the store to destroy its high-capacity magazine inventory or return them to the manufacturer
  • Forfeit all profits it made from unlawfully selling high-capacity magazines
  • Pay penalties under the Consumer Protection Act — up to $7,500 per violation

Attorney General Request legislation banned the sale of high-capacity magazines

During the 2022 legislative session, the state Legislature passed Attorney General Request legislation sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, banning the sale of high-capacity magazines in Washington. The bill passed after a historic 55-42 vote in the House of Representatives.

The law prohibits the sale, attempted sale, manufacture and distribution of high-capacity magazines. It does not prohibit the possession of high-capacity magazines, instead focusing prospectively on the supply side.

The evidence that this policy saves lives is overwhelming. One 2019 study from the American Journal of Public Health found that states without high-capacity magazine bans have double the amount of high-fatality mass shootings compared to those that do have bans.

Ferguson started pursuing this legislative reform in 2016. On July 30, 2016, a 19-year-old used an assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine to kill three students and seriously wound a fourth. In September 2016, Ferguson stood beside parents of shooting victims, legislators, mayors, police chiefs, and representatives of the faith community and vowed to continue proposing legislation to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines every year until it passed.