KEPRtv / Feb. 22, 2018
By Elise Haas


OLYMPIA, Wash. – The latest mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died, has revived Washington lawmakers who are pushing for enhanced background checks and restrictions on firearms.

We’ve watched students around the country and in the Tri-Cities speak out on gun violence and school safety.

Now there are several bills in the House and Senate that aim at keeping automatic rifles and high-powered weapons out of the hands of people who are more likely to do harm.

Action News heard from our Washington legislators to find out where these bills stand.

“I think we should all say this on a bi-partisan basis, thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news conference Wednesday. “Our students and our families deserve action.”

Governor Inslee said the voices of victims and survivors of mass shootings need to be listened to in Olympia.

“There are a handful of modest, common sense bills that if passed can take reasonable measures to reduce the threat of gun violence,” he said.

Inslee voiced that he’s in support of several bills, including:

  • SB 6298 would make it harder for people involved in domestic violence to get access to weapons,
  • SB 5992 would ban bumps stocks, and;
  • SB 5444 would enhance background checks for assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

“I hope these bills get to my desk for signature,” he said.

As a sponsor and co-sponsor of a couple of these bills, Sen. Manka Dhingra said they target people engaging in violence.

“When you look at mass shootings, and one of these things that these guys have in common is that they are perpetrators of domestic violence,” Sen. Dhingra said.

The bill banning bump stocks passed in the senate, and just passed in Rep. Laurie Jinkins’ house committee.

“There is no single law that is going to end gun violence and I would never argue that,” Rep. Jinkins said. “But there are many things we can do that will help.”

Above all, Inslee said children and parents should not have to worry about gun violence in their schools, churches and shopping malls.

“I know this is an emotional issue and where good people have widely disparate beliefs, but I think it is very important to realize that these bills are not regulating guns that are out there for hunting and self-protection,” he said.

“We are talking about regulating weapons that are out there for quick and effective mass slaughter and we’re talking about simply closing loop-holes that have no sense whatsoever.”

Gov. Inslee said it’s now the legislators turn to make a difference.

“I urge legislators to listen to the voices of our students and Washingtonians who want common sense gun safety, for our kids and for all of us,” Inslee said.

A couple proposals drew bipartisan support, including SB 5992 to put a ban on bump stocks and SB 6298, prohibiting possession of firearms from people who’ve committed domestic violence against family members.

These bills have passed in the senate and are making strides through the house.

House lawmakers approved SB 5992 in committee, and the bill is awaiting a floor vote.

SB 6298 passed through the Senate and is scheduled Friday for a House committee vote.

However, the bill concerning enhanced background checks for assault weapons has only been introduced in the senate.

The latest version of SB 5444 would treat purchases of assault-style rifles similar to how Washington now regulates pistols.

The minimum purchase age would be raised to 21, and a gun-buyer would go through both a federal and state background check.

Lawmakers don’t have much time to see these proposals through, the legislative session is scheduled to end March 8.