OLYMPIA – The Senate voted to ban “bump stock” devices that can allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire almost as rapidly as an automatic weapon, overcoming objections of some Republicans it was an overreaction to last fall’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
The devices, which can modify a trigger so a rifle can be fired more than five times per second, should never have been allowed in the first place, said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, the bill’s sponsor. The state already bans automatic weapons, said Van De Wege, who described himself as a lifetime NRA member.
Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, who noted he, too, was a lifetime NRA member, argued the bill was attempting to ban a rare device that has never been used in a crime in Washington. If it becomes law, it would be the first gun-seizure law in the state, he said.
No, the state has had a gun-seizure law since 1994 that covers automatic weapons, Senate Law and Justice Committee Chairman Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said. This would just add bump stocks to the existing law.
Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said banning the devices in Washington won’t automatically prevent a tragedy like Las Vegas because people will still be able to buy the devices in other states.
“Do you really think the crazy psycho person that sits in a hotel room with a gun and says, ‘It’s against the law in Washington to have one of these so I’m not going to do my crime?’ ” Ericksen said.
Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, who was able to narrow the definition of the devices that would be banned, said he was “shocked by the utter brutality of the Las Vegas shooting.” He and three other Republicans voted for the bill.
Before approving the ban Thursday night, the Senate rejected a proposal by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, to allow a Washington resident to own a bump stock if he or she passed a federal and state background check. The devices were originally approved by the Obama administration to allow people with disabilities to be able to enjoy firearms, Padden said.
“It’s not the bump stock in and of itself,” he said. “It’s if somebody uses that improperly.”
But Van De Wege said that amendment would essentially legalize a bump stock with a background check, and state law does not allow a person to legally own an automatic weapon simply with a background check.
The bill was sent to the House, which is considering several other gun control measures.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.