OLYMPIA, Wash. — The manufacture and sale of guns defined as assault weapons would be banned in the state under a bill that passed out of the Senate Law & Justice Committee Tuesday afternoon.
House Bill 1240 defines dozens of guns that would qualify, including modifications that would add weapons to the list.
“We have to take action,” said committee chair Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond).
Dhingra and other Democrats said the legislation could prevent mass shootings, like Monday’s at a school in Nashville. Three students and three staff members of The Covenant School were killed by a former student.
“I believe we should recognize and appreciate that we have an opportunity to do more today than thoughts and prayers. We have an opportunity to take action,” said Sen. Yasmine Trudeau (D-Tacoma).
Republicans tried to amend the bill to narrow the definition.
Sen. Keith Wagoner wanted to take guns that use silencers off the list.
”I’m not aware of a single mass shooting incident in which a sound suppressor was used,” said Wagoner, (R-Sedro Woolley).
Sen. Lynda Wilson (R-Clark County) argued the law will harm legal gun owners who want to defend themselves.
”We’re going soft on crime. That’s the reason why our violence is getting higher and higher in Washington state,” said Wilson.
The bill passed out of the House earlier in March, marking the first time the bill passed off a chamber floor in the Washington Legislature.
Democrats have introduced similar bills for the past six sessions.
The bill will now go on the Senate floor for a full vote. Gov. Jay Inslee said if the bill reaches his desk, he will sign it.
Mass shooting survivor fights for gun reform
Emily Cantrell, a survivor of the Las Vegas mass shooting, reflected on the most recent mass shooting in Nashville.
“I used to get extremely sad and there were times I’d curl up into a ball on my couch and just start crying it is to the point now where I'm angry,” Cantrell said.
Cantrell turned that anger into action as a board member for Alliance for Gun Responsibility. She’s been advocating for gun reform in Olympia for the past five years.
“Some of my best days over the last few years have been in Governor Inslee's office watching him sign bill after bill," said Cantrell. "I think we've made incredible progress here in Washington."
She’s now asking state lawmakers to pass the proposed bill that would ban the sale and manufacturing of guns defined as assault weapons.
“They are best served by mass shooters," Cantrell said. "These are weapons of war. They are meant to kill more people more quickly and they don't belong in the hands of everyday individuals."
Cantrell said gun violence does not discriminate and that this bill could help save lives.
“If we keep moving the way we are, 99% of Americans will know a victim of gun violence," Cantrell said. "It's become so common and so senseless and it needs to change."