Massachusetts House lawmakers Wednesday moved rapidly, and some critics said rashly, to ban any device that could be used to increase the rate of discharge of a firearm.
The action came 10 days after a shooter in Las Vegas is believed to have used a “bump stock” device to rain bullets on a concert crowd and maximize casualties.
A ban on bump stocks and any other device that could be used to turn a legal gun into one capable of firing like an automatic weapon was attached to a budget bill moving through the Legislature this week and needed to close out spending on the fiscal year that ended July 1.
“The only reason you own a bump stock is to increase the rate of fire of your otherwise legal semiautomatic weapon into the same rate of fire as an automatic weapon to kill people quickly and more effectively. That is the reason. That is not a legitimate reason,” said Representative David Linsky, a Natick Democrat, who filed the amendment.
The House voted 151-3 in favor of the Linsky amendment, with three Republicans – Repsresentatives Peter Durant and Donald Berthiaume of Spencer and Nick Boldyga of Southwick – dissenting. The Senate plans to take up the full budget bill on Thursday, according to a spokesman for the Senate president.
Multiple bump stocks — spring-loaded rifle modifiers used to increase the rate of fire of a weapon — were found in the Mandalay Bay hotel room of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock. Law enforcement believes Paddock was able to use the bump stocks to fire thousands of rounds of ammunition into the crowd of a country music festival in the span of about 10 minutes.
One woman from Massachusetts – Tewksbury’s Rhonda LeRocque – was killed in the shooting.
Linsky had filed a similar bill last week banning bump stocks. That bill has not had a public hearing. “We have an opportunity to do the bump stock legislation today. We’re going to take it,” Linsky said.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo indicated last week he hoped to move quickly on the issue, and House leaders decided the spending bill was a proper vehicle.
Asked about acting without the benefit of a public hearing, DeLeo said Wednesday that he believes he would have heard from gun owners if they had concerns after House leaders signaled their interest in moving quickly to take up the bill.
Gov. Charlie Baker said last week that bump stocks should be “outlawed,” and indicated he would sign legislation banning the devices.
“Governor Baker supports the Second Amendment to our constitution and Massachusetts’ gun laws, including the ban on assault weapons, as they are among the strictest laws in the nation and are proving to keep our communities safe. The administration is open to considering additional commonsense control measures like outlawing bump stocks and will carefully review the final legislation reaching the governor’s desk,” press secretary Billy Pitman said in a statement Wednesday about the Linsky amendment.