Bump stock ban passes in Washington, stalls in Virginia

With plans to establish a prohibition on bump stocks afoot in a number of states, the Washington Senate approved one ban while lawmakers in Virginia rejected another.

On the West Coast, several Republicans joined Democrats in the Washington Senate to pass SB 5992 by a 29-20 margin. The bill would define a bump fire stock as one that uses the recoil of the action to increase the rate of fire. Those found using such a device could face up to life in prison as it would classify them in the same category as an illegal machine gun.

“It aligns current practices with our state laws and our state laws have never allowed for fully automatic weapons,” said state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, the bill’s sponsor.

Some lawmakers questioned if the move will save lives.

“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?'” Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said.

Gun rights advocates to include the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Firearms Policy Coalition and National Rifle Association oppose the move as an overreach.

The bill now heads to the state House, where Democrats hold control. Passage there would send it to Gov. Jay Inslee, who was one of the first in the country to advocate a ban on the devices following their use in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in Las Vegas last October.

Virginia effort rebuffed

Last week the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety voted down a series of gun control measures including a move to expand background checks to all firearm transfers, ration handgun sales to once a month, and ban bump stocks.

The bump stock ban, HB 41, was sidelined in a 4-2 vote though two others, HB 597 and HB 819, are still alive but would likely have to navigate the same committee to proceed.

Earlier this month a Senate committee killed a myriad of anti-gun bills that were part of Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam’s political agenda but advanced a bump stock ban proposal. However, without support for the move in the House, it could be dead in the water this session even if it carries the chamber.

Other bans are tracking across the nation including Colorado, Delaware, Nebraska and New Hampshire with varying results.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts and New Jersey have approved bump stock bans since the Las Vegas shooting, enacted into law by Republican governors. State police in the former are in the process of warning those in the Commonwealth to turn in any bump stocks or trigger cranks in circulation or face criminal prosecution.