Washington state's gun control proposal is off the table for this legislative session.

Jeff Reading, a spokesman for Senator Ed Murray's office in Olympia issued the following statement in an email to Newstalk 870:

SB 5737 would restrict the sale of assault weapons. It wouldn't ban possession and there would be no confiscation. There have been erroneous media reports that the bill authorizes police searches of the homes of existing owners -- that's false. The bill does no such thing. Also, the bill is dead. (italics added for emphasis).

As Mr. Reading stated, there were numerous reports flying around the web about the bill actually taking away semi-automatic weapons. One blogger even went as far as to claim Washington state had apparently passed the measure.

What set off the inferno of protest was that the eight-page bill originally contained a provision that would have allowed county sheriffs to conduct annual "inspections" of gun owners who had a semi-automatic assault weapon to determine if they were stored in a safe manner. The bill was similar to others across the country that restrict the sale of such weapons, the type of ammunition and bullet magazines they can use.

As reported by Newstalk 870, a Seattle trial lawyer publicly noted the inspection provision was probably unconstitutional. The Seattle Times covered the story extensively, and it exploded across the country. SB 5737 quickly became known as an attempt to search and seize gun-owners' weapons, even though the bill did not state that.

Senator Murray and the other bill sponsors attributed that inspection clause to errors by staff members who wrote the bill. As often happens, the legislators did not READ the bill before sponsoring it!

The sheriff inspection clause was quickly removed, but by then it was too late. As one Seattle Times writer put it, any chance of gun control measures happening in Washington state this year are dead.