What Washington Just Did About Bump Stocks
Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat who was among the first to call for a ban on the devices last year, signed legislation Tuesday to outlaw bump stocks in Washington.
Inslee applied ink to SB 5992, which makes it illegal to manufacture or sell a bump stock in the state after July and sets a one-year “buy back” program into effect before possession of such devices would become unlawful. The bill passed the Democrat-controlled Senate 31-18 and the House 56-41.
“Devices that turn legal guns into weapons of war have no place in the hands of civilians in Washington state, and sensible gun regulations, including banning these devices, can help reduce violence in our communities,” Inslee said in a press conference attended by state lawmakers and gun control advocates. “I applaud the Legislature for passing this bill, and I encourage lawmakers to continue to work to fight the scourge of gun violence.”
Under the guidelines of the new law, a bump stock is defined as a buttstock that, when attached to a semi-automatic firearm, effectively increases the rate of fire by using the energy from the recoil of the firearm “to generate reciprocating action that facilitates repeated activation of the trigger.” Unlike some recent bans, such as in Massachusetts or New Jersey, it does to target trigger devices such as cranks and binary trigger packs.
Starting July 1, selling or making bump stocks in the state will be illegal, subject to a class C felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. The Washington State Police is authorized under the measure to purchase bump stocks from owners until July 1, 2019, at a price of $150, a further departure from bans in other states which offer no compensation for turned in devices. For reference, maker Slide Fire currently sells such stocks for $179-$329. Possession in Washington after the expiration of the grace period would be a felony.
On the national level, while at least a half-dozen bills regulating or outlawing bump stocks are pending in Congress, the Trump administration has mentioned the possibility of both actions by federal regulators and executive orders in banning the devices, a hot-button political item since their use in a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas last October. Just two days after the incident, where a retired accountant killed 58 and injured hundreds, Inslee called on lawmakers in Washington to ban the once little-known devices. Of note, Inslee is the first Democrat to sign a ban into law in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, with Republican governors signing prohibitions in Massachusetts and New Jersey.