Kelso gun store sued for violating ban on high-capacity magazines
The Washington State Attorney General is suing a Kelso gun shop for allegedly selling high-capacity magazines, despite a state ban.
Washington state's ban on high-capacity magazines went into effect in 2022. It prohibits the sale of magazines that carry more than 10 rounds.
The lawsuit alleges Gators Custom Guns is among the state's largest sellers of high-capacity magazines from out-of-state distributors. The Attorney General's Office is asking the shop to destroy or return any unsold high-capacity magazines and to stop selling them.
“Our sweep continues to show that an overwhelming majority of gun retailers in Washington are doing the right thing and complying with the law,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “In contrast, Gator’s Custom Guns intentionally built a retail stockpile that exceeds anything my office has seen since the ban went into effect. My office will continue to enforce this common-sense law.”
Store owner Walter Wentz could faces a fine of at least $7,500 for every time the shop sold or offered to sell one of the magazines. The lawsuit alleges that the store illegally offered the magazines 11,408 times and sold five to investigators. It also states that investigators found barrels filled with hundreds of high-capacity magazines in the shop, many which carried up to five times the amount allowed by state law.
After the state's ban on high-capacity magazines went into effect, the Attorney General's Office sent undercover investigators to monitor compliance with the new law. More than 100 gun stores have since been visited by investigators.
In December 2022, the office sued two Western Washington gun shops for violating the ban — one in Federal Way and another in Lakewood. In some instances, investigators reported that store staff would sell the high-capacity magazines, but hide the sale by ringing up the items as something else. The Lakewood shop ended up paying a $15,000 fine for the violation.
The Attorney General's Office alleges the illegal sales at Gator's Custom Guns happened after the lawsuits against the other stores were reported in the media.
The state's lawsuit was filed on Sept. 12 with the Cowlitz County Superior Court. Weeks prior, on Aug. 24, the Silent Majority Foundation said it filed a petition against the AG's investigation.
At the time, Pete Serrano, an attorney for the Silent Majority Foundation, said in a statement that the Attorney General's Office was "using this as a tool to conduct a wild goose chase to confirm his belief that Gators sold these magazines. It’s a sad day when the AG wants nothing more than to punish a lawful place of business simply to win political points.”