A lot of the focus of the early 2018 legislative sessions has been on Virginia, where Democrats are finding out just how large the GOP can make a narrow majority feel, and on red states like West Virginia that have plunged right back into the business of putting more guns in more places for fewer reasons. So it is nice to score a win.
After last fall’s massacre in Las Vegas, a shooting whose scope was made far greater by the availability and use of a firearm accessory known as a bump stock, the Washington Senate has advanced a bill that would make the device illegal in the state:
The vote for Senate Bill 5992 on Thursday night came as a rare victory at the Washington Legislature for gun-regulation advocates.
For years, proposed gun laws in Olympia have stalled long before getting a full vote of the Legislature.
That inaction stands in stark contrast to the new gun laws Washington voters broadly approved at the ballot box in 2014 and 2016.
On Thursday, four Republicans joined Democrats to approve the bump-stock ban, including Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview, who previously said he was leaning against the proposal.
The bill passed with bipartisan support even as Republicans voting against the bill trotted out the same tired hyperbole.
Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said banning the devices in Washington won’t automatically prevent a tragedy like Las Vegas because people will still be able to buy the devices in other states.
“Do you really think the crazy psycho person that sits in a hotel room with a gun and says “it’s against the law in Washington to have one of these so I’m not going to do my crime’?” Ericksen said.
Thanks to Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, the bump stock ban’s original sponsor, all Senators who voted for the bill, and local gun control organizations that both testified at the bill’s committee hearings and rallied in support of the legislation.
Democrats fought hard to retake control of the state government, and have been unafraid to use it to advance gun regulation legislation this year. In addition to SB 5992, two other pieces of Democratic legislation bear watching and we should demand they be voted on as well: SB 5553 (voluntary waiver of firearm rights for people who are suicide risks) and SB 6049 (a ban on high capacity magazines). The Washington House is also considering a bill that would ban firearms in early childhood education centers.
The bill moved on to the House, where Democrats have a 50-48 majority. The bill getting a vote is somehow not a sure thing, so here’s hoping local groups keep the pressure on and demand a hearing and a vote.