OLYMPIA – With more than 100 orange-clad gun control advocates in the Capitol demanding action, Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed a bill banning a device that can make a semi-automatic rifle fire so fast it mimics a machine gun.
But those advocates weren’t enough to push the Senate into voting on a bill that would put new restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic rifles and establish new school safety programs.
The bump stock bill, which contains money for a buy-back program for devices that are turned into the Washington State Patrol, got its final vote in the Legislature last week. Inslee noted the signing was occurring 156 days after the Las Vegas massacre in which the gunman used the devices, and that the parents of one of the victims, Carrie Parsons, were there to witness it.
“This is a common sense piece of legislation,” he said. “It will help save lives from acts of massive gun violence.”
Inslee called for the Legislature to take even more action in the three days it has left in the regular session by passing a bill that would raise the age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, and require the more extensive background check required in Washington for the purchase of a handgun.
Although that bill has been stripped of its references to tactical features or assault weapons, it would cover the AR-15 and similar semi-automatic weapons like the one used in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
Inslee urged lawmakers to “step up to the plate … throw off the shackles of the NRA.”
Later Tuesday evening, however, the Senate adjourned without taking up the legislation that covered semi-automatic rifles and had other measures to improve school safety. A vote on the bill was originally scheduled for last Saturday, then delayed until Monday and again Tuesday. It also had 23 proposed amendments, signaling the likelihood of a protracted debate with only two days left in the session.
Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, initially said the bill would have to pass the Senate Tuesday to have a chance to go to the House and pass that chamber before the regular session ends by midnight Thursday. Tuesday evening, he said he was “discouraged” but had not completely given up.
“A bunch of us are trying to find a way forward, but we’re down to the wire,” Frockt said. “We tried to be responsive to the public outcry.”
In the morning, Frockt told more than 100 activists wearing orange hats, scarves or T-shirts signifying the Alliance for Gun Responsibility that they should speak up to let legislators know they supported gun safety measures.
“Be loud,” he told them. “Be respectful.”
A few hours later, a couple dozen activists in orange gathered outside the doors to the Senate, chanting “Take the vote! Take the vote!” But the Senate had gone on a break for lunch, and few lawmakers were in the chamber.