Governor Jay Inslee called on state lawmakers to ban bump-stocks and other devices used to modify semi-automatic firearms, following the shooting massacre in Las Vegas.
National media outlets report at least one of the rifles of gunman Stephan Paddock had been outfitted with “a bump stock,” allowing the gun to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, according to law enforcement sources who spoke to the New York Times.
“Right now, we have a situation where there’s a hole in our law that needs to get fixed. It allows the sale of these bump-stock devices so you can turn a legal semi-automatic weapon into a lethal fully automatic weapon. That needs to be fixed; those need to be outlawed," Governor Jay Inslee said.
“People do not need to make a semi-automatic for deer hunting or self-protection to a fully automatic weapon of war.”
Video: Full interview with Inslee
Inslee said he will advocate for his proposal during next legislative session. It’s one of a couple of proposals likely to face an uphill battle in Olympia.
“It’s easy to pick a firearms accessory and demonize it, because it’s good for a headline,” said Dave Workman of the Second Amendment Foundation and senior editor for GunMag.com.
“You can’t prevent someone who’s determined to commit a heinous act from committing a heinous act,” continued Workman.
Workman argues stricter laws won’t safeguard against unprecedented tragedies such as the massacre in Las Vegas.
“That’s a red herring of the gun lobby,” said Renee Hopkins, CEO of Washington’s Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “We know we’re going to have pass a number of different policies, invest in a number of different programs, and have to educate our public about the dangers of owning a firearm.”
While Hopkins doesn’t anticipate federal gun legislation moving forward anytime soon, she believes action will continue at the state level.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility worked to pass Initiative 594 in 2014, requiring universal background checks for all gun sales in Washington State.
Last year, Initiative 1491 on extreme risk protection orders passed, allowing families or law enforcement to petition a court to consider temporarily suspending a person’s access to firearms, if there’s evidence that there’s a harm to the individual or others.
More recently, the state legislature passed a bill that cracks down on illegal gun buyers who tried to make a purchase. Passage of the law follows a KING 5 investigation.
The organization’s current proposal centers around enhanced assault weapon background checks to put standards on par with what would be required for a concealed carry permit.
Hopkins said the proposal also includes a requirement for training and explanation of why the individual requires an assault weapon.
“To me this is not a political discussion, it’s a public health discussion, it’s a public safety discussion,” said Hopkins.
On the other side of the debate, Workman argues most criminals don’t adhere to the rules of background checks. He said he would instead focus on looking at stricter sentencing laws for armed crimes and individuals who break gun laws.
“The reaction from the gun community is pretty simple,” continued Workman. “We have a right to keep and bear arms in this country, just like we have a right to freedom the press and speech.”
However, this week’s latest massacre, the deadliest in modern U.S. history, has reignited the gun debate from Washington D.C. to Washington State over access, particularly access to assault weapons.
“I think for our elected leaders everything should be on the table,” said Hopkins. “They should really be considering what's most effective. They have a paramount duty to keep people safe, and they have failed and they have failed in that when it comes to guns and easy access.”
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