Poll finding on Senate Bill 5078 (banning high-capacity gun magazines)
Visualization of NPI's poll finding on Senate Bill 5078

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.

Poll finding on Senate Bill 5078 (banning high-capacity gun magazines)
Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s poll find­ing on Sen­ate Bill 5078

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.

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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2 replies on “Ban on high-capacity gun magazines very popular with Washingtonians, NPI poll finds”

  1. I oppose this. I am a vet­er­an. This will just have under­ground law break­ers hav­ing more capac­i­ty than law abid­ing citizens.

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