Hundreds of people crowded hearing rooms in the Washington state Capitol Monday to testify on proposed gun control legislation. Among other things, lawmakers are looking to ban so-called bump stocks which allow firearms to fire faster.
Several of the people who testified in favor of a ban were victims of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. That’s where 58 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on a music festival using firearms equipped with bump stocks.
Emily Cantrell from Seattle went to Las Vegas with her fiancée. Although both survived the attack, Cantrell said the disaster affects her to this day.
“I struggle with survivors' guilt,” Cantrell said. "I’m terrified when the sun goes down. Any little noise makes me jump or cry. I look for a gunman in any room I enter. Even though I don’t have a bullet in my head or body, I feel like I have one.”
Lawmakers are also considering a limit on magazine capacity and enhanced background checks to buy military-style weapons. Gun control advocates say the measures are reasonable and necessary to insure public safety in Washington.
But opponents say that a ban on trigger modification devices is too broad. They also say very few people own them.
Stillaguamish Tribal Council Chairman Shawn Yanity testified against the background check measure. He said the state should first improve how it communicates with law enforcement before limiting gun rights.
“We have a system that has flaws,” Yanity said. "From what I’ve read and what I’ve seen we have data from the military that doesn’t get through the system. We also have data in tribal courts that does not make it through the system. Washington state does not recognize protection orders from Indian country. That needs to change.”
But the most emotional testimony of the day came from people like Christina Brinch, a U.S. Army officer and intensive care nurse practitioner. She said she’s seen the consequences of gun violence.
“Families torn with unimaginable guilt and lifelong grief,” Brinch said. "I know if every member of this committee had lost a child all would be in favor of common sense gun laws."