A ban on bump stocks has passed out of a Washington state Senate committee. But it faces an uncertain future.
Last October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas made bump stocks a household term. Bump stocks are devices that allow a semi-automatic gun to fire more like an automatic weapon. The shooter outfitted at least two of his guns with the devices before killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more.
Now Washington lawmakers are considering a ban on bump stocks. Ann-Marie Parsons testified this week in favor of that legislation.
“On October 1 of this year, my daughter Carrie Parsons was murdered in Las Vegas in the mass shooting,” she said. “Saying that is very hard for me.”
Parsons told the Senate Law and Justice Committee that her daughter was killed by an AR-15 rifle that had been outfitted with a bump stock.
The bump stock ban has now passed out of that committee, but Democratic leaders make no promises about its future.
Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson said passing gun-related legislation is always difficult.
“I would love to see that bill signed into law, but we will have to caucus on it,” she said.
Republican state Senator Jan Angel serves on Senate Law and Justice Committee. She said a ban is unnecessary.
“What’s the problem that we’re trying to solve? I don’t see that we really have one,” Angel said. “In Vegas, yes there was a man that took bad advantage of that, but he also had multiple other weapons. There was a much bigger scheme on that. And of course our hearts go out to those folks.”
Speaker of the House Frank Chopp said there would need to be bipartisan support to outlaw bump stocks.
“The bump stock bill potentially could be that,” he said. "We’re going to be having hearings on a number of bills and see where the votes are.”
Democrats have slim majorities in both the Washington House and Senate. Already some more conservative Democrats have signaled they won’t support a ban. That means Democrats would need some Republican votes.
But Senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler said he’s not sure they’ll get those votes after rejecting a Republican amendment to the bill that was introduced in committee.
“Get it out of the committee, no amendments,” Schoesler said. “That doesn’t do much to garner Republican support.”
The Republican amendment would have required background checks for bump stocks, but not banned the devices.
Other gun control bills under consideration this year in the Washington Legislature include a limit on magazine capacity and enhanced background checks for purchases of military-style rifles, also known as assault weapons.