Shooting instructor Frankie McRae demonstrates the grip on an AR-15 rifle fitted with a bump stock at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, North Carolina. Some states, including Washington, and cities are taking the lead on banning bump stocks. (Allen G. Breed / AP file)

Shooting instructor Frankie McRae demonstrates the grip on an AR-15 rifle fitted with a bump stock at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, North Carolina. Some states, including Washington, and cities are taking the lead on banning bump stocks. (Allen G. Breed / AP file)

State will buy back bump stocks before they become illegal

The devices, when attached to semiautomatic weapons, allow them to fire more rapidly.

OLYMPIA — Soon it will be illegal to own a bump stock in Washington.

But before it does, owners will be able to get $150 for each one they turn into the state.

The Washington State Patrol is designing a buyback program to be launched in late September and potentially operate through the end of next year.

It’s a product of a new law targeting the devices, which when attached to a semiautomatic weapon, allow it to fire more rapidly.

The new state law makes it illegal to manufacture or sell bump stocks in Washington beginning July 1 and to own or possess them beginning July 1, 2019. After that latter date, bump stock devices will be considered contraband and subject to seizure by authorities.

Lawmakers included a provision requiring the Washington State Patrol to set up the buy-back program. Once started, it will operate until at least June 30, 2019, which is the date prescribed in the law.

However, the section requiring establishment of the program does not expire until Dec. 31, 2019. Capt. Monica Alexander, a state patrol spokeswoman, said the aim is to run it until the end of the year, to give owners more opportunities to act.

As envisioned, buybacks will be done on designated dates in each of the state patrol districts around the state. The dates and times will be publicized in advance, she said.

Each person who turns in a bump stock will get a receipt and a check will be mailed to them. Nobody will walk out the door with $150, she said. If the money doesn’t arrive, they can contact the office and show the paperwork for the transaction, she said.

It is expected that an outside vendor would be selected to destroy surrendered items.

While lawmakers required the program, they did not provide money to cover the costs.

“We are going to have to pay for it out of our budget,” Alexander said.

It’s unclear what it might end up costing, which depends on how many people take part.

The state patrol is developing rules for the program. It started earlier this month and once language is drafted it will be made public for people to review and provide comment. A public hearing is expected in August in Olympia.

If the agency adopts the rule in August, it could take effect a month later.

Lawmakers in Washington moved to outlaw the devices after the October 2017 mass slaying in Las Vegas in which the shooter reportedly had 12 rifles outfitted with the plastic attachments, which cover a trigger opening and allow a gun to fire rapidly as the recoil “bumps” the trigger.

Washington is one of several states that have taken this step.

President Donald Trump in March directed the U.S. Department of Justice to outlaw them as well. That month the federal agency began the process of drafting rules to carry out the directive.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

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