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Mass. Legislature moves to ban bump stocks

An AR-15 rifle fitted with a "bump stock.”Allen G. Breed/Associated Press

The state Legislature took a significant step Thursday toward making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to ban bump stocks.

Beacon Hill lawmakers sent a bill to Governor Charlie Baker that would outlaw the sale, purchase, or ownership of such devices, which can be attached to a semiautomatic firearm to increase its firing speed.

The move comes a little more than a month after a gunman opened fire on a crowd in Las Vegas, killing 59, including Rhonda LeRocque, 42, of Tewksbury, and injuring hundreds more. Authorities found 12 bump stocks and 23 weapons in his hotel room.

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In the wake of that mass shooting, the state’s House and Senate proposed bump stock bans with differing language. Thursday’s amendment represents a compromise between two previous proposals, according to state Representative David Linsky’s office.

The ban was included in a supplemental budget deal reached between House and Senate lawmakers that includes more than $129.3 million in additional state spending.

The legislation would ban anyone from owning, possessing, or selling any device other than a magazine that is designed to simulate automatic gun fire and can be attached to a rifle, shotgun, or firearm.

State Senator Barbara L’Italien, whose district includes LeRocque’s hometown of Tewksbury, said in a statement that LeRocque was struck down “in the prime of her life.”

“We have a responsibility to close loopholes and do all we can to make sure this type of needless violence doesn’t happen again in our communities,” the Andover Democrat said in the statement. The final language of the bill, said L’Italien, “does a great job getting bump stocks and trigger cranks out of the wrong hands for good.”

The proposal now goes to Baker for his signature. The governor has previously expressed his support for banning bump stocks, and has suggested that Massachusetts could serve as a model to the federal government on gun regulation.

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“The administration is pleased the Legislature reached a compromise on the supplemental budget and will carefully review the bill in coming days,” said Brendan C. Moss, a Baker spokesman, in an e-mail.

The ban would go into effect 90 days after the governor’s signing. The bill would also outlaw the possession, ownership, or sale of trigger cranks, which state lawmakers are defining as any device that can be attached to a weapon that “repeatedly activates the trigger of the weapon through the use of a lever or other part that is turned in a circular motion.” That ban would not include weapons initially made to fire through the use of a crank or lever.

“This language was carefully drafted following many conversations with legislators, law enforcement officials, and Massachusetts citizens, on all sides of the gun debate,” said Linsky, a Natick Democrat who sponsored the amendment, in a statement.

“I am confident this language will effectively ban bump stock devices, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and closing any loopholes that could be exploited by gun manufacturers,” he added.

Linsky said he is proud of the state “for continuing to enact some of the strongest gun laws in the country.”

Other states, including New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, and New Jersey, have considered bump stock bans in recent weeks.


Information from State House News Service was included. Globe correspondent Julia Jacobs and Martin Finucane, Annie Linskey, and Astead W. Herndon of the Globe staff contributed. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.

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