OLYMPIA – Washington moved closer to a ban on a device that can make semi-automatic rifles fire much faster and do more damage, as the House passed a bill that would make “bump stocks” illegal.
Although the Senate previously passed the ban, the bill is headed back to that chamber for another vote because the House added a provision for the state to buy back those devices from people who have them. Under that change, the state would pay up to $150 for devices turned in to the Washington State Patrol between this July 1 and June 30, 2019.
Like most bills involving gun control and gun rights, the bump stock ban generated strong passions as lawmakers worked through, but ultimately rejected nine amendments seeking exceptions for disabled gun owners or veterans, or make it illegal to people who use the device when committing a crime.
Originally designed and approved by the federal government to help people with disabilities use a rifle, the devices allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire so quickly it mimics an automatic weapon.
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, argued that while the ban only covers a particular device, that device is attached to a firearm which could also be confiscated. The ban is an incremental step toward broader weapons confiscation, which violates the state and U.S. constitutions, he said.
“The right to be armed shall not be impaired,” Shea said, his voice rising as he added: “Impaired!”
Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie, warned of a “chipping away” of the Second Amendment: “We are one step closer to trampling on the rights of free individuals.”
The bill does nothing to address mental illness, an important factor in gun violence, he added.
“All of the mass shootings we have had are related to mental illness,” Rodne said.
But supporters called it a common sense measure to ban a device that was used by the gunman in last fall’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“It won’t do enough, but at least it will do something,” Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, said.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day's top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter