State Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview) said Monday that he’s not inclined to vote for five different proposed gun control bills, potentially dooming their chances of passage in the closely divided Senate.
The bills call for a range of changes, including banning high-capacity magazines and the sale of “bump stocks” — a trigger-modification device used in the deadly Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting.
With Democrats clinging to a one-vote majority in the Senate, Takko’s vote could be decisive on any gun control legislation.
Nearly 1,000 people flooded into the State Capitol building Monday to attend a Senate Law and Justice Committee hearing on the proposed measures, including National Rifle Association members and a Washington couple who survived last year’s Vegas shooting.
Takko said he’s also been inundated with calls from 19th District residents urging him to vote against the bills.
“I also have to represent the district, and I can tell you I’m getting far more calls from constituents telling me vote no rather than vote yes,” he said Monday in a phone interview. “There’s a lot of people in the district that have guns and love to hunt and shoot,” he said. “It’s a big issue.”
Takko said he’s not intimately familiar with all five bills but would probably need to see changes before supporting them.
“I’d have a hard time on most of them because I don’t really think they’re going to do much” to stop gun violence, he said Monday in an interview.
Senate Bill 5992 — the bump stock bill — has received the most attention so far, but Takko said the bill’s language is too broad for his liking.
The bill defines trigger modification devices as “any part or combination of parts designed or intended to accelerate the rate of fire of a firearm.”
(Bump stocks are devices that use the recoil of a semi-automatic firearm to fire shots in rapid succession, effectively turning semi-automatics into machine guns.)
The bill would prohibit selling, possessing or repairing “any trigger modification devices” starting July 1, 2019.
“You can pull in a lot of modifications that have nothing to do with the bump stock issue,” Takko said of the bill. “I’m willing to look at it, and if someone can come up with some better language, I could most likely go there,” he added.
But 19th District Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) — a longtime National Rifle Association member — said that while a bump stock bill may have a chance in the Senate, he’s unlikely to support a bump stock ban in the House. Democrats control a narrow two-vote majority in the lower chamber.
“I just don’t believe it will be effective,” Blake said in an interview. “I think a seventh grader could make a bump stock in an afternoon if they had access to a shop.”
Blake said he thinks it’s even less likely for the rest of the proposed gun control bills to pass.
“I don’t think there will be the votes for the other bills,” he said.
However, both Southwest Washington Democrats have signaled they are open to less restrictive gun legislation.
Takko said he believes legislators should be focusing on the mental health aspect of gun control. He’s signed onto a bill sponsored by freshman state Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), a former King County prosecutor, that would make it easier for courts to bar criminal defendants with a history of violence from possessing firearms.
Takko also has a bill that would make concealed weapons permits exempt from public records, saying he wants to prevent gun owners from becoming targets of thieves.
Blake sponsored a bill signed into law last year that requires firearm dealers to notify the Washington State Patrol when a person who previously failed a state or federal background check tries to purchase a gun.
“Those are the kind of bills that I have an interest in,” he said.