OLYMPIA — A bill to ban the manufacture and sale of bump-fire stocks passed the state House on Friday, clearing the way for the state to outlaw devices like the ones used by the shooter in last year’s mass slaying in Las Vegas.
On Friday, the House voted 56-41 to approve the Senate bill that also would bar possession of the after-market equipment that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire like fully automatic models.
Because the House made one change in the bill, it will be sent back to the Senate for its expected concurrence.
Gov. Jay Inslee has expressed his support for banning the attachments.
Friday’s vote followed an impassioned floor debate. A supporter read the names of those killed in Las Vegas while opponents warned the measure tramples on constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.
Backers of the ban said more must be done to try to prevent shootings like those at a summer house party in Mukilteo in 2016, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in 2014 and a Florida school last week. Critics of the bill said it would not do anything to stop children from killing children.
“This legislation is about doing something about gun violence,” said Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee who shepherded it through the chamber.
“No single thing we do will end it,” she said. But “it is the absolute least thing we could do.”
Republican Reps. Jay Rodne, of Snoqualmie, and Matt Shea, of Spokane Valley, argued taking away the plastic attachments will criminalize lawful conduct and chip away at individual rights without bringing about any reduction in gun violence.
“It is not going to change the hearts of bad people,” Shea said.
Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, whose district includes Mukilteo, said that while the bill might not do as much as hoped, “I think it will do something.”
“We want our communities to feel safe,” he said. But after tragedies in Parkland, Las Vegas and Mukilteo, “our communities don’t feel safe. This just might be one of those things that lets our communities sleep a little better tonight.”
Senate Bill 5992 bans the manufacture and sale of bump-fire stocks starting July 1. It makes it illegal to own or possess them beginning July 1, 2019. After that date they would be considered contraband and subject to seizure under the law’s provisions.
On Friday, the House added language establishing a statewide buy-back program between July 1 and June 30, 2019. Owners would be able to turn in a bump stock to the Washington State Patrol or a local law enforcement agency and get $150.
When the bill was first introduced by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, it targeted a wide array of “trigger modification devices.”
The version approved by the Senate narrowed the focus to “bump-fire stock” which is defined as a “butt stock designed to be attached to a semiautomatic firearm” to enable an increased rate of fire, simulating a fully automatic firearm. The purpose of the device is to cover the trigger opening, allowing the gun to fire rapidly as the recoil “bumps” the trigger.
Stephen Paddock, accused of killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 others attending an outdoor concert in Las Vegas last year, was reported to have 12 rifles outfitted with such devices.