Three-fifths of Washington State voters support legislation to prohibit high-capacity magazines, which hold more than ten rounds of ammunition, according to the Northwest Progressive Institute’s latest statewide poll.
60% of 700 likely 2022 Washington State voters surveyed by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for NPI from February 17th-18th expressed support for reducing the scope of gun violence in our state by banning the sale of high-capacity magazines.
30% said they oppose the proposal and 4% were not sure.
Notably, 50% of those surveyed expressed strong support.
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5078, prime sponsored by Senator Marko Liias (D‑21st District: Snohomish County), prohibits the manufacture, importation, distribution, selling, and sale of high-capacity magazines holding more than ten rounds. The legislation provides limited exemptions for sales to law enforcement and military organizations and allows Washington dealers to sell high-capacity magazines to out-of-state buyers.
ESSB 5078 passed the Senate 28–20 on February 9th, 2022.
The House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee heard public testimony on the bill on February 16th. Several people who have lost family members to mass shootings perpetrated with high-capacity magazines spoke in support, including:
- Ami Strahan, whose son Sam was killed at Freeman High School in Rockford in 2017;
- Robert Schentrup, whose sister Carmen was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018;
- and Ann Marie Parsons, whose daughter Carrie was killed in the Route 91 Harvest mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017.
Dr. Fred Rivara, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and director of the Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at Harborview, and Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Cornell, who responded to the Mukilteo mass shooting in 2016 also testified in favor.
This is the fourth consecutive year that the House and Senate have considered restricting high-capacity magazines. As our research shows, this sensible gun safety measure has both broad and deep support.
Here is the question that we asked and the responses we received:
QUESTION: The Legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit the sale or possession of high-capacity magazines holding more than ten rounds. The bill includes exceptions for grandfathered magazines, law enforcement, military personnel and recreational shooting ranges. Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose prohibiting the sale or possession of high- capacity magazines holding more than ten rounds?
- Support: 60%
- Strongly support: 50%
- Somewhat support: 10%
- Oppose: 35%
- Somewhat oppose: 5%
- Strongly oppose: 30%
- Not sure: 4%
Our survey of 700 likely 2022 Washington State voters was in the field from Thursday, February 17th through Friday, February 18th, 2022.
It utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines (50%) and text message answers from cell phone only respondents (50%).
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute and has a margin of error of +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence interval.
The incredibly robust enthusiasm that we found for banning high-capacity magazines mirrors the impressive support we found for a bill that is also pending in the Legislature to prohibit the carrying of firearms at local government public meeting facilities and election sites (HB 1630). Our finding is also consistent with the extremely strong support for gun safety legislation and initiatives that we have found in our polling going back over half a decade.
Although we asked about banning both sale and possession of high-capacity magazines in our question, it is important to note that ESSB 5078 does not restrict possession of high-capacity magazines. It focuses on the supply side by restricting the manufacture, sale, importation, and distribution of high-capacity magazines.
High-capacity magazines make it easy for shooters to inflict a horrific level of injuries and deaths by allowing more shots to be fired without needing to pause to reload. Because of that, these accessories are favored by mass shooters.
All six of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S. in the last decade — those perpetrated in Las Vegas, Orlando, Newtown, Sutherland Springs, El Paso, and Parkland — were committed by perpetrators wielding high-capacity magazines.
Recent mass shootings in downtown Seattle, Mukilteo, Burlington, and Spokane were also carried out with high-capacity magazines.
An analysis of mass shootings between 2009 to 2017 revealed that of the incidents with known magazine capacity data, 58% involved firearms with hig capacity magazines. These shootings resulted in twice as many fatalities and fourteen times as many injuries per incident on average compared to those that did not include the use of high-capacity magazines.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office believes that ESSB 5078 will withstand judicial scrutiny if passed by the Legislature.
“In all, seven federal courts of appeals have upheld laws prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines,” the office noted in a February 9th press release applauding the Senate’s vote on ESSB 5078. “There is currently no split or controversy in the federal courts of appeal on this issue. The United States Supreme Court has allowed appeals court decisions upholding these laws to stand.”
“The research is clear — bans on the sale of high-capacity magazines save lives,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson declared in the aforementioned press release.
What is equally clear from our research is that banning the sale of high-capacity magazines is an idea most Washington voters are enthusiastically in favor of.
We urge the House of Representatives to immediately join the Senate in passing ESSB 5078 to better protect Washingtonians from the threat of gun violence.