SEATTLE – Washington gun shops are reporting record sales in the final weeks leading up to the state’s ban on firearm magazines with more than 10 rounds.
The uptick in sales comes as recent mass shootings – including the massacre at an Uvalde, Texas, school that killed 21 people and the racist shooting in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 – have renewed calls for new gun restrictions.
Interest in buying guns and AR-15-style rifles also increased nationally in the days following the Texas shooting, according to Google Trends, a tool that shows the volume of popular searches.
Advocates of increased regulations and Democrats have called Washington’s ban, which passed in March and goes into effect July 1, an important step for reducing gun violence and fatalities. Conservatives and gun-rights advocates have called the law ineffective and a violation of the Second Amendment.
The law, approved by the Washington state Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee, prohibits the manufacture, distribution and sale of firearm magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The law makes Washington the 10th state in the U.S. to restrict the sale of magazines with more than 10 or 15 rounds.
While gun sales have surged generally since the start of the pandemic, the Washington law has prompted people to buy a flurry of guns and the soon-to-be-banned magazines, local gun shop owners say.
The law limits not just magazines for rifles that hold 20 to 30 rounds but also the sale of magazines that go into certain handguns.
Danny Borne, owner of Dan’s Firearms in Port Orchard, said there has been more interest in AR-15-style rifles, which he attributes to the upcoming magazine ban. Borne said responsible gun owners are being unfairly punished and he is skeptical that the magazine ban will prevent shootings.
“The criminals aren’t going to care. They’re still going to do what they’re still going to do and the only people that it’s going to affect are people that weren’t a problem to start with,” he said.
Borne said the pandemic business boom has shown no sign of stopping. Sales doubled the year following March 2020 and then doubled again the next year, he said.
In-person and online sales of magazines have skyrocketed in recent months at Precise Shooter, a Woodinville gun shop, said owner Sergey Solyanik in an emailed statement.
“There are millions of magazines brought into WA in anticipation of ban, at the end of the day there will be more magazines here than a decade worth of normal sales,” he said.
Sales for high-end custom-made guns for competitive shooters that do not come with low-capacity magazine options have also increased, Solyanik said.
Owner of Wade’s Eastside Guns in Bellevue, Wade Gaughran said while first-time buyers made up a lot of the initial pandemic gun sales, he is seeing more longtime gun enthusiasts in his store trying to fill gaps in their collections before a ban takes place.
Gaughran said since the shooting in May in Uvalde, he has seen around a 25% increase in sales. However, he typically sees a delayed uptick in sales after national tragedies, he said.