Washington House panel OKs bump stock ban

A House committee has approved a bill that would ban trigger devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly, similar to the ones used in the Las Vegas mass shooting. (KOMO News)

A House committee has approved a bill that would ban trigger devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly, similar to the ones used in the Las Vegas mass shooting.

The measure, which passed out of the full Senate last month on a 29-20 vote, passed the House Judiciary Committee Thursday on a 10-3 vote.

The move to ban the devices — known as bump stocks — came in response to last October's mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and left hundreds more injured.

The ban would make it illegal for anyone in Washington to manufacture or sell bump stocks beginning July 1. In July 2019, it would become illegal to own or possess a bump stock in Washington.

The bill's chances of making it to the House floor are still unclear. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House, and legislative leaders have said the measure will need bipartisan support to pass.

State lawmakers also mentioned the Florida school shooting Thursday.

"It was a tragedy what happened in Florida," said Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-House majority leader. "We're going to do everything we can to prevent that from happening here in Washington state."

The sponsors of the bills say the shooter in Florida was only 18 at the time he legally obtained an assault weapon.

Bills sponsor Sen. David Frockt said, "it is the access that they have to this type of weapon that is contributing to the mass killing we're seeing and shootings that we're seeing all around the country."

The senate majority leader believes citizens may need to take the lead.

"And in this case especially after what happened yesterday I would encourage citizens in this state to run another initiative and cure this," Sen. Sharon Nelson, D, said.

"This is not a gun issue," said Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver. "This is a mental health issue. This person was very troubled. He needed to have help."

Democrats agree mental health needs to be addressed.

"We need to take a look at what kind of mental health resources we need to invest to try to make sure we intervene earlier where that trigger is never pulled," Nelson said.

"I'm also interested in thinking about how are we preparing our students and our school settings and our communities and our places of worship and parks," Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, said.

The republican leader in the House believes there should be large presence of armed individuals inside schools.

Rep. Dan Kristiansen said, "I'm not saying every district, every school should have a police officer there. I'm saying we empower our local school boards, we give them some options to provide for security out there."

Kristiansen said he realizes there were armed police inside at the time, but he'd like to see a larger presence and believes the state should help pay for the extra protection. And that includes the possibility of training staff or other individuals to carry firearms.

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