OLYMPIA – A proposal to ban the sale of high-capacity gun magazines in Washington died after not receiving a vote by a key deadline Wednesday evening, but gun-control advocates quickly reloaded with a new proposal.
House Democrats failed to put a bill up for debate that would have banned magazines holding more than 15 rounds. It needed to pass the House by Wednesday to continue being considered in the 2020 session.
The bill was pulled from consideration by the full House after Republicans filed 120 amendments to be debated before a final vote on the bill could be taken, Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma said.
“One of the things we have to figure out here is the trade off in time,” Jinkins said, noting each member could speak for as long as three minutes on each amendment.
Almost half of the amendments, 52, were proposed by one representative, Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor.
Democrats had the votes to pass the bill if it came to a final vote, Jinkins said.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who joined the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and other groups early this year in calling for the ban, said the failure of the bill was “extremely disappointing” and accused House Republicans of staging a “semi-filibuster.”
House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, said Democrats could have used parliamentary procedures to reject the amendments if they considered them dilatory or not germane to the bill.
“I think they were looking for someone else to blame,” Wilcox said. “When they want a bill, they bring the bill to the floor.”
He didn’t rule out the possibility of Republicans using the tactic again on other bills in the remaining days of the session.
Inslee said he would support an initiative to limit magazine capacity if one is filed. If not, the Legislature should take up the issue in 2021, he said.
Democrats may get another chance to debate the issue. Later Thursday a new bill calling for a ban on the sale of magazines holding more than 15 rounds was filed in the House with a provision that would allow it to ignore the deadline.
Along with the policy that limits the number of rounds, it also calls for a buyback program that would compensate gun owners who turn in as many as five high-capacity magazines to the Washington State Patrol between this July 1 and June 30, 2021. To pay for the program, it proposes repealing the tax exemption for the sale of precious metals or bullion.
Bills that require the state to spend money or levy new taxes aren’t subject to Wednesdays if they are included in the General Fund budget. The House and Senate will release their supplemental budget proposals Monday.
In recent years, gun-control advocates have sponsored successful voter initiatives when the Legislature has failed to pass key measures.
Kristen Ellingboe, spokeswoman for the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, said there was no plan “at this point” to sponsor an initiative on restricting magazine capacity.
“That would be letting elected officials off the hook,” she said. Instead it will try to get the new legislation considered as part of the budget process.
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