By Rachel La Corte / Associated Press
OLYMPIA — The Washington Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill to ban trigger devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly.
The measure received a final 31-18 vote in the Senate Tuesday after the chamber accepted changes made by the House, which passed the bill on a 56-41 vote Friday. The House amended the bill with a provision that would allow the Washington State Patrol to set up a yearlong “buy back” program for people who already own the devices, known as bump stocks.
“It is crucial that we ensure that weapons are not turned into illegal machine guns,” Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra said after the vote. “I think the culture has changed, where a lot of people really want to see sensible, targeted gun legislation.”
The move to ban the devices came in response to last October’s mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and left hundreds more injured. The ban would make it illegal for anyone in Washington to manufacture or sell bump stocks beginning July 1. In July 2019, it would become illegal to own or possess a bump stock in Washington.
Democratic Sen. Tim Sheldon, who caucuses with Republicans, said before the vote that “we can do better than this.”
“When a legislative body acts under pressure and feels they must act right away we often don’t get it right,” he said during the floor debate, and noted arguments made previously by Republican Sen. Mike Padden who questioned how much the buyback program could ultimately cost the state.
The measure now heads to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign it.
“This is a modest, common sense piece of legislation that will help prevent further gun violence, though there’s a lot more we can do this session,” Inslee posted on Twitter after the vote.
Lawmakers are also weighing a new bill that was just introduced last week in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people. That measure would raise the age to purchase certain semi-automatic rifles or shotguns from 18 to 21, and would bring background checks requirements for those guns mostly into line with those required to buy a handgun in the state. The bill, which received a public hearing on Tuesday, also creates a program that would allow students and others to report concerns about unsafe, dangerous or illegal activities and creates another program for schools implement emergency response systems to expedite emergency response in the event of a threat.