State moving quickly on plan to buy up banned bump stocks

If lawmakers provide the money, owners could surrender them before a federal ban takes effect in March.

OLYMPIA — State lawmakers are moving swiftly to fund a buyback program for bump stocks before a federal ban on the firearm attachment takes effect in March.

A bill awaiting action in the Senate would pay residents $150 for each bump stock surrendered to the Washington State Patrol.

The state agency knows how it will carry out the program — once the money is provided.

“We’re watching the bill and making all the plans to carry it out without spending any money,” said state patrol Capt. Monica Alexander. “If they provide us the money, we are going to get it done.”

Washington banned the manufacture and sale of bump stocks as of July 1, 2018. It will be illegal to own or possess the devices beginning July 1, 2019. After that, they will be considered contraband and subject to seizure.

When lawmakers enacted the ban, they directed the state patrol to develop a buyback program. But they failed to fund it, so nothing’s happened.

In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Justice moved to outlaw the devices as well. The federal ban is set to take effect March 26.

The sponsor of the Senate bill said it was an oversight not to fund the state program last year. Now, they are trying to keep their promise, knowing residents will have a slim window of opportunity to turn them in.

“I don’t know if they were planning to do so. I want to keep our word,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island.

Under Senate Bill 5954, an individual could turn in up to five of the devices, which, when attached to a semi-automatic firearm, will allow a gun to fire rapidly as the recoil “bumps” the trigger.

A resident who turns a bump stock into the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives before the national ban will also be eligible to receive $150. They will need to show proof, like a receipt from federal authorities, to the Washington State Patrol.

As envisioned, each Washington resident who turns in a bump stock in working condition will have a check mailed to them.

Lawmakers in Washington moved to outlaw the devices after the October 2017 mass slaying in Las Vegas in which the shooter reportedly had 12 rifles outfitted with the plastic attachments.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.