Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have signed onto legislation introduced by California Senator Dianne Feinstein and other Senate Democrats to ban so-called bump stocks.
Investigators confirm a dozen bump stocks were discovered in the Las Vegas gunman’s room. The devices can be used to convert a semi-automatic firearm into a fully automatic one, according to experts, rapidly increasing the gun’s rate of fire.
“Enough is enough,” said Dianne Feinstein, D-California, whose legislation would ban the sale, manufacture and possession of bump stocks.
“Some have said we shouldn't do this now, we should wait, now is not the time. Ladies and gentlemen, when is the time going to be there,” Feinstein continued.
While it’s unknown whether the latest proposal will make to the floor of the Republican controlled Congress, some Republicans have indicated they would be willing to review the proposal.
“I'm not an expert on bump stocks, but all things that make America safer and don't infringe on the Second Amendment, count me in,” Senator Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in comments Tuesday, said it was premature to consider legislation.
“We're in the middle of the investigation; we'll see what that reveals. And, at the end of that, that would be an appropriate time to discuss us,” McConnell said.
Most of Washington’s Republican members of Congress declined to weigh in on new legislation. However, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the number four ranking Republican in the U.S. House, indicated she might be willing to look into the issue of bump stocks.
"We are still collecting facts and understanding what happened in Las Vegas,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers said in an email to KING 5. “These devices, commonly known as bump stocks, are relatively new, and it's clear we need more information about this technology, how it works, and who should have access to it."
“This is the time for common sense measures,” said Governor Inslee. “We have all relatives who hunt, believe in self-protection but these fully automatic weapons of war are not necessary. So, this bump stock which resulted in a massacre, which shot through the face of one of our citizens ought to be unacceptable in the state of Washington. It ought to be banned; I’ll advocate for that as soon as legislators are back in session.”
A spokeswoman with the governor’s office said they’re currently weighing several different ideas, looking at the federal Feinstein bill and assessing options at the state level.
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility said their legislative staffers are also digging into the issue and would support a bill to close the bump stock loophole.
So, would such a proposal stand a chance of passing in the state legislature?
KING 5 has reached out to leaders of the both chambers, the Democratic controlled House and Republican controlled Senate. Here are the statements received so far.
State Senator Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, Chair of Law and Justice Committee
“I was horrified by the tragedy that took place over the weekend in Las Vegas. In this moment of shock and grief, we need to ask ourselves whether any law can stop a madman determined to do evil. The law meant nothing to the shooter.
“We do a disservice if we jump to conclusions. Partisan sniping does none of us any good. There is much we still do not know about the case, and we will be following the investigation closely to see what determinations we might make about the laws we already have on the books.
“The Senate Law and Justice Committee has worked to address the problems posed by gun violence. As committee chair, I am willing to consider reasonable legislation that effectively addresses the issue and also protects constitutional rights.”
State Senator Steve O’Ban, R-University Place
It is my fervent hope that the investigation into the unspeakable atrocity in Las Vegas will provide us with insight into how to identify and stop evil perpetrators like this from committing similar horrific crimes in the future. The potential for violence by a very small minority of the mentally ill is one of the reasons I’ve been dedicated to reforming and improving our mental health care system.
House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington
“First, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and friends, and the first responders touched by this horrific crime. Before now, I’d never heard the term ‘bump stock.’ It appears Congress will take action on this at the federal level, and we be looking closely at it in Olympia.”
House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, speaking from the experience of having a family member murdered with a gun.
“The litmus test I would have on this issue, or any other issue—would it have saved my uncle or prevented his death or other citizen’s deaths, or are we just further restricting law abiding citizens.”
Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, House Judiciary Committee Chair
“Lawmakers should be judged not on what they say in response to gun violence, but on what they do. There are specific actions we can take to help prevent the kind of human massacre that happened in Las Vegas this week. We can close the machine gun loophole by banning bump stocks, the device the shooter used to turn a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic one. We can require background checks for assault weapons be at least as strong as those for pistols. We can require safe storage of firearms. There are so many opportunities to curb gun violence and I’m ready to work with my colleagues in the legislature to get this done, because thoughts and prayers are not enough to prevent what happened in Las Vegas from happening here in Washington State.”
KING 5 has also reached out to Democratic State Senators Steve Hobbs and Dean Takko who would be considered potential swing votes in the State Senate but has not yet heard back, as of deadline.
Additionally, the issue of gun safety has become a campaign issue in the balance of power state senate race for Eastside legislative district 45.
Both candidates released the following statements Wednesday; Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra promised to introduce gun safety legislation, including the governor’s proposal on bump stocks.
“It is unacceptable that we have 100 gun deaths every day in this country,” said Dhingra. “I am tired of hearing about mass shootings and school shootings on the news. There are reasonable and realistic steps we can take to make it harder for people to commit suicide with a gun, or perpetrate domestic violence, or go on one of the terrifying mass shootings that have become all too common. I am committed to taking immediate action by using my experience as a prosecutor and advocate for mental health policy in the Senate to help keep our families and communities safer.”
Meanwhile, Republican candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund said she would support enhanced background checks and believes “every day citizens should not be able to turn a gun into a fully automatic weapon.
Englund also said: “An ongoing and continual investment into our mental health system is imperative to reduce the threat of gun violence. There needs to be an elevated level of scrutiny placed on anyone with mental health or criminal background issues. Those who have been convicted of a crime or possesses serious mental health issues should not have access to firearms.
I also want to publicly state that I would like to talk with anyone who has any ideas that they believe would prevent such a tragedy in the future. Anyone. That includes relatives and friends of victims, gun control supporters, 2nd Amendment supporters. Anyone. We must work together to stop such senseless, tragic violence.”