OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a trio of bills into law Wednesday morning that restrict firearms, including a new limit on the amount of ammunition in magazines, setting up an expected court challenge by foes of tighter regulations.

The two other pieces of legislation are intended to limit weapons at government meetings and election spaces, and to further tighten prohibitions on the assembly of untraceable “ghost” guns.

Taken together, the bills are some of the strongest gun regulations to be passed by the Legislature. Washington voters in the past decade have three times approved stricter gun laws at the ballot box, after proposals died in Olympia.

Inslee signed the bills in a reception room in the Capitol, which had been closed around the time of the event out of security concerns, though no credible threats had been made, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Surrounding the governor at the ceremony were firearm-safety advocates, including people who have seen friends and family killed or injured from gun violence, as well as lawmakers and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

“The NRA’s stranglehold on this state has been broken,” Inslee said in remarks to reporters after the ceremony, referring to the National Rifle Association. “And the reason is because of the courage of the parents, and the courage of legislators, too …”


Supporters of stricter gun laws have long sought limits on ammunition magazines as a potential way to reduce the number of rounds fired in mass shootings. Throughout the year — and again on Wednesday — advocates and lawmakers pointed back to the 2016 Mukilteo shooting where a gunman killed three and injured another, and only stopped shooting after running out of ammunition.

But the fight over the new regulations is likely not over.

Senate Bill 5078 prohibits the distribution, sale, importation and manufacture of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It does not prohibit possession of such magazines, such as larger magazines that people currently own. The new law is expected to draw a legal challenge.

In an email Wednesday morning, Alan Gottlieb of the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, whose organization files legal challenges to firearms regulations across the nation, wrote that they intended to sue.

“The Second Amendment Foundation will definitely file a lawsuit against the magazine ban,” wrote Gottlieb, a founder of the organization. “Our attorneys are reviewing the other two bills.”

Opponents of stricter firearms regulations have often argued that such laws infringe upon the constitutional right to bear arms, and won’t be effective in stopping gun violence.


In November, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling by two of its judges and upheld California’s limits on ammunition magazines in a decision that may ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action this month petitioned the court to weigh in on that case.

In a statement Wednesday, the organization’s regional legislative director said Washington’s new laws “are reckless, short sighted, and place the lives and liberty of the law-abiding at risk.”

Ferguson, the attorney general, requested the limits on magazines six years in a row, culminating in this year’s passage. At Wednesday’s ceremony, he credited Paul Kramer, whose son was wounded in the 2016 Mukilteo shooting.

“I just remember the way he spoke about the impact on his son, the impact on his family, the impact on the wider community … it wasn’t just about him,” said Ferguson.

“I remember saying to Paul, before clearing it with my staff, that I was going to propose this bill every year until it passed,” Ferguson added.


In remarks after the ceremony, Ferguson acknowledged a legal fight was likely, but said several courts have upheld challenges on similar laws in other states.

Sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, SB 5078 includes many exceptions to the 10-round limit. Corrections officers and law enforcement are exempted, for example, as are members of the armed forces or Washington’s National Guard and licensed firearms dealers selling to those institutions.

Violations of the law would be a gross misdemeanor, which in Washington can mean up to 364 days in county jail or a fine of as much as $5,000.

“They won’t be on the shelf of Cabela’s, they won’t be on the shelf at Walmart, they won’t be … online,” said Liias.

He acknowledged that people planning premeditated violence could still cross state lines and buy a larger magazine.

But many people committing violence are in “a moment of trouble,” Liias said, “And so when we take … these magazines off the shelves, we interrupt that behavior when someone’s in a moment of crisis.”


Additionally, the law makes the sale, offering for sale or distribution of a prohibited magazine a violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, something Liias said could be used against out-of-state gun dealers.

A second bill signed into law Wednesday further restricts the sale, purchase, possession and transfer of untraceable firearms, or parts of them. House Bill 1705 also sets standards for licensed firearms dealers to put markings such as serial numbers on firearms components or complete guns that don’t have such markings.

Inslee on Wednesday also signed House Bill 1630, which bans the open carry of weapons while knowingly being in a local government building used for meetings like city council gatherings.

That new law also bans the possession and carrying of weapons in parts of facilities used for school district board meetings, as well as in elections offices, like those found at county auditor facilities.

It comes after lawmakers last year passed a law to ban open-carry of weapons at the Capitol in Olympia and at permitted demonstrations around the state.

“No one should be prevented from accessing their government due to fear of armed intimidation,” said Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, the sponsor of HB 1630. “That’s just not OK.”