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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Crime/Public Safety

Washington assault weapons ban one step closer to reality after passing Senate committee

March 28, 2023 Updated Tue., March 28, 2023 at 8:34 p.m.

An assortment of AR-15 style rifles are seen on display on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, at Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Spokane, Wash.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
An assortment of AR-15 style rifles are seen on display on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, at Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Spokane, Wash. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
By Elena Perry The Spokesman-Review

The controversial assault weapons ban is one step closer to passage in Washington, after a vote out of a Senate committee Tuesday.

The bill seeks to ban the sale, manufacture and distribution of semi-automatic rifles shorter than 30 inches, rifles with a detachable magazine, rifles with a fixed magazine with a capacity of over 10 rounds and semi-automatic pistols with a detachable magazine. The bill does not outlaw possession of listed weapons, so residents would be able to keep the firearms they own before the bill goes into effect.

The proposed ban is one of the most divisive bills on the table this session and especially timely given Monday’s school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, that left three students and three staff members dead. The shooter was armed with three guns, including an AR-15, which are banned within the bill.

Democrats cited the Nashville shooting as justification for the ban’s passage, while Republicans said the events pointed to a mental health issue, not a firearms one.

“One thing that’s a constant in all of these tragedies is the gun and the easy accessibility of weapons in this country. We know that’s part of the problem,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, a member of the Law and Justice Committee. “To lay it on everything but access to the gun is elevating the Second Amendment above all other amendments.”

Lawmakers introduced 18 amendments to vote on along with the bill, all but one coming from Republicans. Of the 18, the lone Democrat-sponsored amendment was passed with the bill.

The adopted amendment clarified the definition of “import” on the bill, allowing residents to travel in and out of Washington with the same firearm.

Amendments not adopted by the Law and Justice Committee include one that would add a six-month delay before the ban goes into effect, allowing gun retailers to sell their stock of firearms is prohibited under the bill. Other amendments sought to reduce the scope of firearms banned by the bill.

Republicans said other factors are to blame for gun violence.

“Unfortunately, there are shootings all the time. I’m really disappointed to say what they’re planning to do here is not going to address that,” said Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, who sits on the Law and Justice Committee. “We have a mental health problem, we have a drug use problem, and we need to start addressing that in order to get to where we need to be.”

The bill still needs to pass the Senate chamber in a floor vote. If the Senate passes it, the House of Representatives will need to vote on it again, since the committee passed an amended version of the bill. No further action has been scheduled at this time.

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