OLYMPIA — A bill that would ban bump stocks, a device that increases a weapon’s rate of fire, is closer to becoming law.
SB 5992 passed the House of Representatives 56-41 on Friday, largely along party lines. The bill passed in the Senate 29-20 on Jan. 25. Before going to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for a signature, the bill will go back to the Senate for consideration on an amendment.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D- Sequim, who represents legislative District 24, which covers Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Gray’s Harbor County. Reps. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, and Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, voted in favor of the bill.
“It’s always been my belief that lawmakers should be judged not by what we say in response to gun violence but by what we do in response to gun violence,” Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said during floor debate.
The votes came in the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., last week in which 17 high school students were killed. Since then, Parkland students have traveled to their state capital to lobby for further gun regulations.
The conversation about bump stocks ignited across the country after a shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas that killed 58 people.
While lawmakers addressed national news, state tragedies weighed heavy on their minds.
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, said she was a counselor responding to a shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High school on Oct. 24, 2014 when four students were killed before the gunman fatally shot himself.
“I know this isn’t going to make everything right but it is a step in the right direction,” she said.
Of 48 Republican lawmakers, 40 voted against the bill.
Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie, said the bill sets up a system where the government can confiscate weapons and is an affront to the Second Amendment.
Good people with firearms has always been the way to stop people with intentions to kill, said Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley.
Shea served for eight months as a platoon leader in Bosnia and 11 months as a company commander and logistics officer in Iraq, according to his site biography. He cited his military experience in supporting citizens’ rights to protect themselves.
“It is not going to change the hearts of bad people,” Shea said of the bill. “It is not going to deal with the mental health crisis we have. It is not going to deal with the veteran suicide epidemic that we have. That’s where our priorities should be.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pointed to national and state mental health measures.
A supplemental operating budget, SB 6032, which passed the Senate floor 25-23 on Friday, would invest nearly $294 million additional dollars over four years to improve mental health treatment around the state, according to a news release.
Nine amendments proposed during the debate outlined exemptions for people with disabilities, exemptions for veterans and law enforcement officers, and one would have allowed people to keep the bump stocks they already have.
Eight of the nine amendments failed. The bill makes bump stocks illegal to manufacture or sell beginning in July 2018, and then illegal to own in July 2019.
The amendment that was passed sets up a buy-back program so people who own bump stocks can receive some compensation within that period.
This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.