Editor's note: 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 …
Editor's note: 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. The WNPA Olympia News Bureau is overseen by Sandy Stokes.
A bill that would ban bump stocks, devices that increase a weapon’s rate of fire, is a step closer to becoming law.
The House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 5992 56-41 on Friday, Feb. 23, largely along party lines. The bill passed in the Senate 29-20 on Jan. 25.
Jefferson County is in the 24th Legislative District and is represented by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, who voted in favor of the bill. In the House, Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, and Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, voted in favor of the final, amended, bill, according to the online state legislative roll call on bills.
“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, Florida, last week in which 17 people 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 heavily on their minds. Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, said she was one of the counselors who responded 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 by which the government can confiscate weapons and is an affront to the Second Amendment.
Good people with firearms have 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 website biography. He cited his military experience in supporting a citizen’s right 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.”
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 passed sets up a buy-back program so people who own bump stocks can receive some sort of compensation within that period.
The bill has to pass both chambers, the House and the Senate.
But before going to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk to sign, the bill goes back to the Senate for consideration of the amendment.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here