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Taking A Stand: Bump Stocks

Lawmakers in New York and Connecticut are pushing to ban the sale and possession of  “bump stocks,” devices that convert semiautomatic weapons into automatic firearms. 

On Monday, state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called for a complete ban on bump stock devices in New York. Assembly Bill 8717 proposes to make it illegal to possess, manufacture or sell any so-called "firing accelerators" such as bump-fire devices and trigger cranks. 

Albany area Democratic Assemblywoman Pat Fahy says the weapons used in last year’s Las Vegas mass shooting were equipped with bump-fire stocks.   "As we know, in Las Vegas, about 500 bullets were fired off within a minute, killing dozens in the worst massacre yet in this country. So we wanna make sure, since Congress is incapable of acting, given the partisan divide there, we wanna make sure that it is banned, to not only possess these but to use these or manufacture or sell these bump-stock apparatuses that would turn a gun into a machine gun. I am very pleased: we introduced the bill, I guess in November, we were able to get a Senate Republican sponsor, Senator Lanza, and I think it is the first bipartisan gun bill sponsored since the SAFE Act over five years ago. And I'm very encouraged that the speaker is my prime sponsor, and very encouraged that we're getting good feedback from the governor's office as well."

Tim Andrews, president of gun rights advocacy group SCOPE-NY, which opposes state bump-stock legislation, says most law-abiding gun owners wouldn't want such devices.  "Bump-stocks, especially when it comes to New York state, no one's aware of where any of these have been used in crimes. Obviously we have the one incident out in Vegas which is what is the thing that initiated all of this. But, it's with any legislation like this, and I would compare this with something like magazines, large capacity magazines, it takes the focus off the real issue. The real issue is keeping firearms away from criminals, and bump-stocks? If a criminal that wants to do no good is gonna do it, he's gonna find a place to get 'em, especially since they are available in other states, they're always gonna be available."

On Tuesday, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said he believes his state's legislature will approve a bump-stock ban during the session that starts on February 7.  "Simply put, these devices are cheap, they are deadly, and they are completely and utterly unnecessary in our society."  (Audio courtesy the Hartford Courant.)

That same day, outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law outlawing bump stocks and similar devices. A 90-day window was established for anyone possessing such equipment, including manufacturers and retailers, to surrender such accessories to a law enforcement agency. New York State Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King says bump-stocks are already outlawed in the Empire State... "...under the SAFE Act and under the Sullivan Law. If you read the description, they're considered a machine gun. I just think that what we're doing here is we're trying to make some headlines and make some hay in an election year where nothing needs to be done. It's already been taken care of. And if there's further regulation, it's the ATF that should be doing the regulating."

According to its website, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is currently reviewing its 2010 decision classifying bump-fire stocks as a firearm accessory not subject to regulation. Public comments are due by midnight January 25.

Via the ATF:  You may submit comments, identified by docket number (2017R-22), by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
  • Fax: (202) 648-9741.
  • Mail: Vivian Chu, Mailstop 6N-518, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Ave. NE, Washington DC 20226. ATTN: 2017R-22.

 Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANRPM). All comments received will be posted without change to the Federal eRulemaking portal, http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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