ESSB 5078 & Bob Ferguson’s Successful Deception
Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s rationale for banning “large capacity magazines” is found in Section 1 of ESSB 5078, and can be summarized as follows – you can disarm/capture a shooter, or even have time to escape from a shooter, if the shooter is forced to eject his empty reduced-capacity magazine and insert another reduced-capacity magazine. Here’s an excerpt from Section 1 (the full text is included at the end of this article):
“Firearms equipped with large capacity magazines increase casualties by allowing a shooter to keep firing for longer periods of time without reloading…victims were able to escape or disarm the shooter during a pause to reload, and such opportunities are necessarily reduced when large capacity magazines are used.”
Let’s be clear on what Mr. Ferguson just said.
- When a shooter (assailant) reloads, that is a real opportunity for the person being shot at (the victim) to either disarm the assailant or escape;
- The fewer times an assailant needs to reload (by using large capacity magazines), the victim “necessarily” has fewer opportunities to escape, and fewer opportunities to disarm the assailant.
This may seem reasonable to some, but not to those of us who see the need to shoot back in self-defense and in defense of others. In fact, what Mr. Ferguson said in that excerpt above is quite irrational. The more we read, the more this becomes clear:
“The legislature further finds that this is a well-calibrated policy based on evidence that magazine capacity limits do not interfere with responsible, lawful self-defense.”
Why is that? Why would a reduced capacity magazine necessarily render an assailant vulnerable to being disarmed, but NOT render a victim who is shooting back in self-defense (with reduced-capacity magazines) vulnerable to being shot by the assailant?
Good Guys Can Be Disarmed More Easily Too
Mr. Ferguson just told us that a person shooting, who is forced to reload more often, can be disarmed more readily. If that’s true, then by virtue of me being a responsible, law-abiding gun owner who is defending myself with my firearm with reduced-capacity magazines, ESSB 5078 necessarily interferes with my ability to lawfully and responsibly defend myself and others – because I am opening myself up to the assailant shooting me when I am forced to reload with another reduced-capacity magazine. According to Mr. Ferguson’s rationale, I am also providing an opportunity for my attacker to escape and possibly seek easier targets to kill and/or move to a better vantage point of attack.
Mr. Ferguson’s rationale is not dependent on characteristics unique to homicidal assailants. It is wholly dependent on the frequency of magazine changes – something both bad guys and good guys must do when using semiautomatic firearms.
It is irrational and dishonest to say that increasing the number of mag changes opens up bad guys to being shot/captured, but increasing the number of mag changes good guys must make does not affect their ability to defend.
Mr. Ferguson cannot have it both ways. If reduced capacity magazines hinder assailants in their attack, then reduced capacity magazines necessarily hinder a victim’s ability to shoot back in self-defense and opens up the victim to being shot by the assailant.
Misleading Claim: Bans Attributed To Less Fatalities
Sandwiched between the two above excerpts is another baseless, deceptive claim. After citing some marginally relevant statistics (that are arguably incorrect and/or misleading), Mr. Ferguson makes this claim:
“Based on this evidence, and on studies showing that mass shooting fatalities declined during the 10-year period when the federal assault weapon and large capacity magazine ban was in effect, the legislature finds that restricting the sale…of large capacity magazines is likely to reduce gun deaths and injuries.”
I could just give a five-word response to that in Latin and be done with it – Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc – and Attorney General Ferguson would immediately understand me. The literal interpretation is “After this, therefore because of this.” In common terms it means;
“Since event Y happened after event X happened, then event Y must have been caused by event X.”
When we plug Mr. Ferguson’s claim into the Post Hoc logic equation, it looks like this:
Since mass shooting fatalities declined (event Y) during the 10-year federal ban (event X), then the decline in mass shootings (event Y) must have been caused by the 10-year federal ban (event X).
As is the case with Post Hoc logic, Mr. Ferguson gives no causal link between the two events. If there was one, he would have given it. If there was one, he would not have resorted to the deception of logical fallacy. Mr. Ferguson’s reasoning for restricting the sale/purchase of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds is not only irrational, but also purposefully deceptive.
To understand why, see my blog on Semiautomatic Assault Rifles.
ESSB 5078: Section 1 – Full Text
Section 1. The legislature finds and declares that gun violence is a threat to the public health and safety of Washingtonians. Firearms equipped with large capacity magazines increase casualties by allowing a shooter to keep firing for longer periods of time without reloading. Large capacity magazines have been used in all 10 of the deadliest mass shootings since 2009, and mass shooting events from 2009 to 2018 where the use of large capacity magazines caused twice as many deaths and 14 times as many injuries. Documentary evidence following gun rampages, including the 2014 shooting at Seattle Pacific University, reveals many instances where victims were able to escape or disarm the shooter during a pause to reload, and such opportunities are necessarily reduced when large capacity magazines are used. In addition, firearms equipped with large capacity magazines account for an estimated 22 to 36 percent of crime guns and up to 40 percent of crime guns used in serious violent crimes. Based on this evidence, and on studies showing that mass shooting fatalities declined during the 10-year period when the federal assault weapon and large capacity magazine ban was in effect, the legislature finds that restricting the sale, manufacture, and distribution of large capacity magazines is likely to reduce gun deaths and injuries. The legislature further finds that this is a well-calibrated policy based on evidence that magazine capacity limits do not interfere with responsible, lawful self-defense. The legislature further finds that the threats to public safety posed by large capacity magazines are heightened given current conditions. Our country is in the midst of a pandemic, economic recession, social tensions, and reckonings over racial justice. The years 2020 and 2021 have seen a sharp increase in gun sales and gun violence, as well as fears over gun violence and incidents of armed intimidation. In this volatile atmosphere, the legislature declares that it is time to enhance public health and safety by limiting the sale of large capacity magazines. The legislature intends to limit the prospective sale of large capacity magazines, while allowing existing legal owners to retain the large capacity magazines they currently own.