Washington State Bump Stock Ban Passes Committee

A little-known device called a "bump stock" is attached to a semi-automatic rifle at the Gun Vault store and shooting range Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in South Jordan, Utah. Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock bought 33 guns within the last year, but that didn't raise any red flags. Neither did the mountains of ammunition he was stockpiling, or the bump stocks found in his hotel room that allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

There are a lot of really good people in Washington state. It’s beautiful country, too; the kind of place I always dreamed of relocating to someday. Of course, that was before I came to understand just how much the rural parts of the state are dominated by the liberal coast. Now, that liberal coast is one step closer to removing a piece of the state residents’ constitutional rights.

Washington would ban certain trigger devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly under a bill approved by a Senate panel Tuesday.

On a party-line vote, the Law and Justice Committee approved Senate Bill 5992 after rejecting a Republican bid to allow them to be sold if the purchaser passes a federal firearms background check.

The devices, known as bump stocks or bump-fire stocks, were used in the Las Vegas mass shooting to increase the firing rate of some rifles used by shooter Stephen Paddock. At a hearing Monday, survivors and family members of victims of that mass shooting described the rain of bullets.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said the Las Vegas shooting was “horrific” but preventing future events might be better addressed through improved mental health programs. The devices were originally designed to help shooters with disabilities that make it difficult for them to pull a trigger.

But Committee Chairman Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said the state has had a long-standing law against automatic weapons, and bump stocks essentially turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one. The definition of bump stocks and other trigger devices that would be banned could be revised as the bill moves through the Legislature, he said.

According to testimony at Monday’s hearing on SB 5992 and four other gun control bills, bump stocks are relatively rare in Washington.

Bump stocks are relatively rare everywhere. They’re a novelty device that yes, simulates automatic fire, but it’s also not the only way to do it. As such, their logic that because automatic weapons are already illegal, so to should bump stocks. If you’re going to ban the means to simulate automatic fire, then I suggest you also add rubber bands and belt loops to the list.

Instead, it makes far more sense for someone, anyone with the resources, to start looking at the root causes of violence. And I’m not just talking about a crazy man shooting up people at an outdoor concert, but any and all violence. We need to understand why people become violent if we want to deal with it, rather than trying to ban a piece of plastic.

Without that work, the next Las Vegas will be some maniac using a rubber band to do the same thing. Nothing will have been accomplished except to tell people the device they had so they could have some fun with their rifle is illegal now. That’s it.

Yet that’s probably what Washington state will do. They’ll pass this law, make bump stocks go away, and then wonder what else they can ban after the law accomplishes absolutely nothing.

Kind of like every other gun law out there.